Friday, August 09, 2002

Masters in demand, ATP chief says

Other cities eager to snap up Western & Southern tourney

By Michael Perry,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Lleyton Hewitt returns a shot in his 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Jarkko Nieminen.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
        MASON — ATP Tour CEO Mark Miles said other cities — including Atlanta and Chicago — are knocking down the door to move the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters out of Greater Cincinnati.

        “A number of different entities want to own it and move it,” Mr. Miles said Thursday. “There are very real prospects in very major U.S. cities that are not served by tennis at the moment. And some, like Houston, would like to have a bigger (event).”

        This week's Tennis Masters Series event marks the 104th year of tournament tennis in Cincinnati. But its lease at the ATP Tennis Center in Mason runs out after the 2005 event.

        A decision on the tournament's long-term future will need to be made well before that. Carl Lindner's American Financial Group owns the tennis facility and is willing to sell it for $16.5 million. The tournament is about $2.5 million to $3 million short of that figure.

        “I don't think the final chapter's been written about that,” tournament chairman Paul Flory said Thursday. “There are other people that we're thinking about going to.”

        There are conceptual drawings for a new Center Court, which would include more box seats, more overall seating, more suites and a women's locker room in anticipation of someday landing a WTA event.

        But the tournament can't proceed with any plans until its lease issue is settled.

        “I will tell you there is enormous demand, among other cities, which is real,” Mr. Miles said.

        Mr. Miles said Mr. Flory is determined to make sure the tournament stays in the Cincinnati area on his watch.

        “Having said that, one of the reasons this tournament is what it is is because he has been relentless about growing it,” Mr. Miles said.. “And he's done about everything he can do as it stands right now. He needs to grow the facility.”

        Said Mr. Flory: “It's very difficult because I'm very attached to it. I can't tell you how many endless hours we've spent trying to resolve this. But everything has an end. Our objective is to stay here, but if you can't resolve that, well, then you have to look at alternatives.”

   ATP Masters Results & Schedule


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