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Sanneriet
Oct 6th, 2003, 11:01 PM
Season-Ending Event Plans For New Feature: Fans

By Adrianna Outlaw
10/06/2003

There's a tennis cover-up about to take place in Los Angeles. A year after miniscule attendance marred the WTA Tour's season-ending tournament's debut at the Staples Center, tournament organizers have made several changes in an effort to attract the masses missing in action last year..

Such public promotion may be the most visible alteration for the November 5-10th tournament, but the changes aren't merely cosmetic.

Known as the Home Depot Championships last year, the tournament has a new title sponsor and is now known as the Bank of America WTA Tour Championships presented by Porsche. Formerly staged as a 16-player single-elimination event, the tournament now features a round-robin format, the doubles draw has been cut in half from eight teams to four teams and day sessions, which generated disappointing attendance last year, have been eliminated. As a result, fans are ensured of seeing at least six of the top eight women in the singles draw in every session except for the semifinals and final.

AEG, which serves as tournament co-promoter with Octagon, began work on the 2003 tournament weeks after Kim Clijsters conquered Serena Williams, 7-5, 6-3, to claim the 2002 tournament title and snap Williams' 18-match winning streak.

According to a published report in the SportsBusiness Journal, AEG installed a staff of five full-time sales people for the tournament in January and reduced ticket prices. This week marks the beginning of the company's $400,000 ad campaign to promote the event. Their efforts have paid off to this point as ticket sales have already surpassed all tickets sold for the 2002 tournament. AEG chief marketing officer Shawn Hunter told the SportsBusiness Journal's Daniel Kaplan that the event has already earned as much revenue as it did by the first day of the 2002 tournament.

"We are feeling much better about where we are today," Hunter said. "Knowing we still have the bulk of the buying window ahead of us."

The $3 million season-ending event may be the most lucrative tournament in women's tennis, but it provided a paucity of people in the stands during a disappointing debut at the Staples Center in Los Angeles last November. At times, it seemed there were almost as many people on court as there were in the 20,000-seat arena.

The season-ending championships, formerly known as the Chase Championships, made its debut in Munich at the Olympiahalle in November, 2001. But the move to Munich did not attract the top players, media coverage was limited and attendance was disappointing. Two-time U.S. Open champion Venus Williams withdrew from the tournament less than a week before it was set to start citing a wrist injury, Martina Hingis was sidelined while recovering from knee surgery and Monica Seles, who was stabbed during a match in Hamburg, Germany on April 30th, 1993, maintained her promise of never playing in Germany again in the aftermath of the assault.

In March of 2002, the WTA announced the tournament had moved to Los Angeles. Lindsay Davenport believes it is imperative the WTA establish one site as the long-term host of the tournament to establish stability for the players and visibility for fans and media.

"You've got to try and establish a foundation and keep it in one place for a couple of years," Davenport said last year. "I think they (WTA Officials) really don't have a five-year plan; they don't really know what's going to happen and we have to figure it out as soon as possible."

Tournament officials are hoping the Staples Center proves to be a suitable home for the event.

ktwtennis
Oct 7th, 2003, 01:40 AM
Notice how slow this board is to praise the WTA when they do something right...

And also notice how slow they are to praise an American event that was "stolen" from Germany...

Ryan
Oct 7th, 2003, 02:10 AM
Great article, and I hope their plans pay off. I hope Venus and Serena decide to play, I think it would give the tickets a boost. I really think the 8 person RR idea will do great, because you can see your favorite player at least 3 times in the event, win or lose. I hope the WTA establishes one site as the host, and it should be in the States IMO, the fanbase is just plain larger. Madison Square Garden may be a better venue, but meh.

starr
Oct 7th, 2003, 02:33 AM
I would go if I could be assured neither Williams would play. :)

Rollo
Oct 7th, 2003, 04:15 AM
Madison Square Garden would still be best IMO.


I don't see the point in praising the WTA for starting to promote the event THIS week-it's high time they promoted it. We've been seeing ATP commercials since bloody January for their Houston Masters.

More fans than last year is a start-I'll give them that:)

Ted of Teds Tennis
Oct 7th, 2003, 04:37 AM
Why should we praise the WTA for giving a major middle finger to all the fans in Europe? They moved the final to 3:30AM on a Tuesday last year; now they're moving *all* the matches to the middle of the night.

Cutting the number of doubles teams in half is a dumb idea as well, and I for one don't like the idea of round robin. With a single elimination format, if one of the players is playing badly, we don't have to see that player suck it up three times, or give free points to three different players. (And remember, there are clay-courters out there that don't do well on fast indoor surfaces. Heck, J-Crap hasn't done much on true indoor surfaces -- I'm not counting matches played at the AO with the roof closed.)

TennisHack
Oct 7th, 2003, 04:48 AM
Totally agree with Rollo :)

The round-robin is immensely popular in the men's Masters, and there have been some huge comebacks because of it. For the past two years, Juan Carlos Ferrero has faced elimination after losing his first RR match, but he's somehow managed to come back from behind both times and qualify for the semi. It is very exciting to see how the winners and losers react to their first round match. And a lot is at stake.

So basically, I'm saying don't knock it til you've tried it ;) Who could have foreseen it would be Ferrero, supposedly the clay court extraordinare, and Hewitt in last year's final?

Curtis F
Oct 7th, 2003, 05:06 AM
Madison Square Garden would still be best IMO.


I don't see the point in praising the WTA for starting to promote the event THIS week-it's high time they promoted it. We've been seeing ATP commercials since bloody January for their Houston Masters.

More fans than last year is a start-I'll give them that:)

The ATP truly does promote their YEC starting just after the AO. I never see commercials for the WTA's YEC until October which is really too late. I realise the more casual fan wants some type of guarantee that some big names will play the YEC if they're going to purchase tickets for the event in June, for example, but the advertising shouldn't cater to them. Real fans have a good idea who will qualify and will buy in advance regardless of not knowing who'll exactly be playing.

persond
Oct 7th, 2003, 05:09 AM
I would go if I could be assured neither Williams would play. :)


And, do you really think anyone gives a flying phuck whether or not your "po" azz attend...???...!!!...??? :rolleyes: :rolleyes: