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Volume 23 No. 18
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New tennis arena won’t be ready for WTA event

A new $450 million, 12,000-seat tennis arena that was to host next October’s season-ending BNP Paribas WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China, will not be constructed in time. Instead, the WTA in 2019 will play in the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center, a multipurpose stadium used primarily for table tennis, swimming and soccer.

The WTA in January announced to great fanfare a new $1 billion real estate development deal in the heart of Shenzhen, including the arena and a 10-year commitment for the finals.

“It was always a likelihood the venue would not be ready until 2020,” said Micky Lawler, the WTA’s president. “There are shops currently that have to be torn down and reintegrated into the new facility.

“There were numerous negotiations that had to take place for that demolition and rebuild,” she explained.

The Shenzhen Bay venue is hosting a basketball competition three weeks before the finals, Lawler said, so a lot of preparation needs to occur to be ready for the transition of the arena during those interim weeks.

Next week’s season-ending finals in Singapore is the last of a five-year run there. The finals pits the top eight women singles players and top eight doubles teams.

Singapore made a bid to retain the finals, but Shenzhen’s offer to build a tennis-specific arena and related development won over the WTA. Prize money for next October’s finals is set to double to $14 million.