Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Masters tennis likely to stay in Mason


Agreement reached on sale of ATP center


By Cindi Andrewscandrews@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The deal to keep an international tennis tournament in the Tristate could be wrapped up by the end of the month, American Financial Group Inc., owner of the ATP Tennis Center, said Tuesday.

        “We've reached an agreement that everybody is happy with,” company spokeswoman Sandy Heiman said.

        American Financial had been asking $16.5 million for the ATP Tennis Center in Mason, but an appraisal last year put the land's likely market value at $7.8 million.

        Tennis for Charity Inc., the private nonprofit that runs the tournament, has been trying to line up the financing to buy the 90-acre site, but neither the company nor tournament officials would say Tuesday what the price was.

        “We are gratified to know that our sale of the tennis center will help ensure Cincinnati remains as host of this exciting tennis event for years to come,” Carl H. Lindner, American Financial chairman and CEO, said in a release.

        The men's tournament - recently renamed the Western & Southern Financial Masters - is one of just nine Masters-level events worldwide and is a required stop for top players such as Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.

        The 10-day tournament, held each August, adds about $23 million a year to Greater Cincinnati's economy.

        “I'm thrilled,” Warren County Commissioner Pat South said of Tuesday's announcement. “It is extremely important to our tourism industry.”

        The tournament has been up in the air for several years as negotiations to buy the ATP Tennis Center or lease it long-term have dragged. The event might have moved without a deal, tournament chairman Paul Flory said.

        American Financial has set a target of Oct. 30 for completing the deal. It remains contingent on Mr. Flory finalizing contributions from the Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the city of Mason, Deerfield Township and the county commissioners totaling about $7 million over the next 25 years.

       



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