WTA Championships' woes are plenty
QUESTION: What do you think of the lack of fan presence at the Staples Center last week? The empty arena looks really pathetic on TV. Did the WTA forget to publicize this tournament? Whom do we have to e-mail to get the tournament back in NYC at Madison Square Garden?
Joy, Brooklyn, N.Y.
ANSWER: Next year's promotion: Buy a ticket and get your own personal concession stand.
Jokes aside, the paltry attendance at last week's WTA Championships was, quite simply, an embarrassment. Yes, the late move to L.A. left precious little time to drum up sponsors and sell tickets. Yes, there was no lead-in tournament in the U.S. the week before to get some buzz going. Yes, some of the players were less accommodating than they should have been in promoting the event. But 200 fans to watch two top-16 players? Never mind the Staples Center; you'd get more fans than that if the match were held at an actual Staples store. A non-crowd like that just can't happen, especially at an event that pays $3 million in prize money, especially for a tour at a crossroads.
Five unsolicited tips for avoiding a repeat:
1. Take a cue from the men and make this a round robin among the top eight players.
We understand that the WTA Tour wants to showcase as many players as possible, but the event would have more prestige if only the crme de la crme were present.
2. Just as Philadelphia was an ideal tuneup when the championships were held the Garden, the WTA needs to add an American event the week prior.
(Paul Allen, this is your cue.)
3. The event would be cheapened if there were a discretionary wild card. But, man, it would help attendance if a certain player whose surname starts with K and ends with an -ova were in the draw
. (And we ain't talking about Sandra Kleinova.)
4. Combine the year-end championships with the men's and create the de facto All-Star Week we've been discussing here for years
. Before we hear about how the men are locked into Houston in 2003 and the women are tethered to L.A., let's consult the attendance figures and TV ratings from mixed-gender events and see if we can't make the numbers smell right for everyone.
5. If that fails, move the championships back to the Garden.
The overall attendance for the event in NYC just two years ago was roughly four times what it was in L.A. last week. Los Angelenos (they all come from somewhere) are off at the beach or getting cosmetic surgery during a week in November. You don't have that problem in New York. Further, given the performances of the Knicks and Rangers, we're sure the MSG and Cablevision suits would be all too happy to lower the lease terms and host women's tennis again.
i swear the man gets all his ideas from tennisboards!!!!!