By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MASON - The city has agreed to invest $3.125 million to keep a world-class tennis tournament in the city limits.
Under the agreement, approved this week by City Council, Mason will pay $125,000 annually for 25 years starting in 2003. In exchange, the city will be part of a public-private partnership with Tennis for Charity Inc., the nonprofit group that runs the Western & Southern Financial Masters.
The city will have some public access to the ATP Tennis Center and be able to use a stadium suite during the Masters for business-recruitment purposes.
"Let's hope that this is one of the final steps in securing the tennis series in Mason for many years to come," Mayor John McCurley said.
The agreement brings Tennis for Charity closer to buying the ATP Center from its owner, Carl Lindner's American Financial Group. Paul Flory, who runs the Masters, was promised help from Mason, Deerfield Township, Warren County and its Convention & Visitors Bureau to help finance the purchase.
The center, located near Paramount's Kings Island, spans 90 acres and includes three stadiums and seven other courts.
"We're delighted to see this happen," Mr. Flory said. "It will be a bigger relief when we get to the end." That includes finishing agreements with Deerfield Township and Warren County
Warren County and the Convention & Visitors Bureau are combining to give $3.65 million over 19 years, all from hotel-tax revenues. Deerfield Township plans to give $600,000 over 20 years.
The Western & Southern is a required stop for the top 50 male players. The annual tournament draws more than 160,000 fans.
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