US OPEN SERIES ANNOUNCEMENT
PATRICK MCENROE: Welcome, everyone. Certainly as we look at this crew we've assembled here, this is obviously an historic announcement today for the great sport of tennis. I guess we might call these people up here the Titans of Tennis, here in New York on this great day.
The first three gentlemen here, I am employed by each of them, so I can either be in good shape today or some serious hot water as I'm working with the USTA, CBS and ESPN. I welcome you here today on behalf of the USTA. And we will learn from these assembled guests how this catchy concept has become a revolutionary reality. This has taken a lot of hard work from behind the scenes by these people.
We will hear from Arlen Kantarian, who over the past three years has become a very good friend of mine, certainly a creative thinker and someone who has proved that he can get things done.
Sean McManus, President of CBS Sports, a 35 year broadcaster of the US Open. The network's dedication has helped spur interest in our sport for decades.
Mark Shapiro, vice president for programming for ESPN, one of the driving forces in tennis today. In ESPN's 25th anniversary season, the network will be the first in history to broadcast three of the Grand Slams.
Donald Dell, the tournament chairman, senior vice president of Clear Channel Entertainment. We would be here for quite some time if we were to outline all of Donald's achievements in the sport of tennis. I'm happy to say that he was a Davis Cup Captain for a number of years and helped the U.S. win the Davis Cup. Certainly we are happy to have Donald here.
Tim Leiweke, President and CEO of AEG, a major force in sports and entertainment and recognized by Sporting News as California's most powerful sports figure, even more so than Shaq, I guess, these days. That's impressive. He rearranged his busy schedule just to be with us here today.
Stacey Allaster, Grand Dame of Canadian tennis overseeing both of Canada's premiere tennis events, Toronto's Tennis Master Series, Canada and Montreal’s Rogers Cup.
Paul Flory is here from Cincinnati. He’s been tournament director there for 30 years, making him the longest serving tournament director in the country. It's been amazing what he's been able to do with that tournament year in and year out.
Speaking of doing that with Masters Series events, Butch Buchholz, tournament director of the Pilot Pen Tournament, of Connecticut. It would be very tough to put into words all that Butch has done for this great game of tennis - former player, Davis Cup player as well and today owns that pretty good little event down in Miami, in addition to serving as chairman of Pilot Pen Tennis.
Larry Scott is here, the CEO of the WTA Tour. He's the man dedicated to working with everyone here for the sport of tennis. He was also the CEO of the ATP Tour for a number of years.
Chris Clouser, the CEO of ATP Properties is here. He brings a variety of backgrounds including a successful marketing background, to the sport. He is here representing the ATP.
Three years ago, just after Arlen took over his job at the USTA, he came to me and talked to me about this concept of creating a series leading up to the US Open. I said, "Arlen, that sounds like a heck of an idea." There's been a lot of great ideas in tennis over the years, as we know in the tennis world, making that happen is the tough part. This is why this is an historic day because Arlen has been able to make things happen, and has done just a tremendous job. So let's hear from my friend, Arlen Kantarian.
ARLEN KANTARIAN: Thanks, Patrick. And also I want to thank you for that Davis Cup victory last week against Sweden. Two more victories and the U.S. wins the Davis Cup and Captain McEnroe remains employed.
PATRICK McENROE: No pressure.
ARLEN KANTARIAN: Thank you all for joining us. I want to personally thank everyone on the dais for being here today and for working together for two and a half years. I truly appreciate everybody's help here.
Maybe more than any other announcement that we are going to make today, this represents the unification of professional tennis in North America and a new day for our sport.
As you know, we are here to officially announce the launch of the US Open Series and the launch of the Series this summer in 2004. It's a concept that we think will radically change the way that tennis is presented in North America. It's a concept that will link 10 ATP and WTA tournaments to the US Open, backed by 100 hours of live television on CBS Sports, ESPN, and NBC. It's a concept that we think will better connect the players, tournaments, broadcasters, sponsors and fans. It’s a concept that will kick in a new era for the sport.
We do have, as Patrick mentioned, some of the most influential executives In the world of sports and television here. When you get people like Sean McManus, Mark Shapiro, Donald Dell, Paul Flory, Tim Leiweke, Stacey Allaster, Chris Clouster, Larry Scott, that is the kind of unity, that's the kind of partnership, that's the kind of clout that this sport deserves and that this sport now has.
As I look around the room we also have a couple of other people who have worked on this for a few years that I would like to quickly introduce and mention. First and foremost, our executive director and chief operating officer of the USTA, who in his first year on the job, has been a huge proponent of this, a huge supporter of this and a huge help to me, Lee Hamilton, our chief operating officer and executive director of the USTA.
Patrick introduced six of the ten participating tournaments of the US Open series, and we have all ten present today. I'd like to introduce the remaining four or five that are sitting in the front row. First is Erik van Dillen, a former Davis Cupper, now a senior vice president with IMG and now tournament chairman of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. Bobby Kramer, tournament director of the Mercedes Cup in Los Angeles. Sarah Brelage, executive director for the RCA championships in Indianapolis. We also have a couple of friends here from the Tennis Channel. I want to thank them as they will be providing some early round coverage and also want to thank their CEO David Meister. We also have announced some time ago, a charter sponsor of the US Open Series, Olympus, who from day one, saw the benefit of extending it's two week association at the US Open to literally cover all 10 tournaments within this series.
On behalf of all the tournaments and the USTA, everybody here, I want to thank Stewart Muller, Group Vice President of Olympus, who stepped up and became our charter sponsor.
Finally, one very special guest who could not be with us today, our USTA Chairman of the Board, our President, Alan Schwartz, who has been a long time proponent and a tremendous force behind this initiative. Alan is currently in Stockholm, Sweden at ITF meetings, but he’s sent a short greeting by video, if we could play that video.
ALAN SCHWARTZ: On behalf of the United States Tennis Association, welcome to what is truly an historic happening for our sport - the launch of the US Open Series.
I cannot be with you today as we take the first step on this road toward a new era in professional tennis because I am in Stockholm at an ITF board meeting.
The USTA's ongoing quest as an association is to reach out to others who share our passion for the great game of tennis. It is a quest that supports our mission, to promote and develop the growth of tennis.
The US Open Series is a direct result of that reaching out. It represents the new and enlightened era of cooperation within our sport. It is a result of building strong alliances. It has become a reality thanks to collaboration with and commitment of our many partners in this vision.
Coming on the heels of the industry wide "Tennis Welcome Center" Initiative, the US Open Series is yet another groundbreaking development for tennis in North America. The 3,500 Tennis Welcome Centers across the U.S. will create more tennis awareness and more tennis players.
The US Open Series will elevate the profile of tennis, creating more fans, more stars, more TV viewers and ultimately more players. Each becomes a catalyst for the other.
Today you'll learn all about the US Open Series, an initiative we have driven for two years, an initiative that will expand our tennis audience, entice new people to play the sport and grow our sport. Many thanks to you all for joining us.
ARLEN KANTARIAN: Those are the players. What we want to do is take a quick look at the plan and then turn it over to the group here.
Very simply, The US Open Series is an integrated series of tournaments that is now going to unify the summer North American season under a consistent television platform and marketing platform, providing increased visibility and added value to every constituency in the sport: players, tournaments, broadcasters, sponsors and the media.
There are four basic components to the plan: 10 summer ATP/WTA tournaments linked directly to the US Open; 100 hours of live national television; a player bonus system that will directly link the performance at the US Open Series to the US Open with the opportunity for players to win double the prize money at the US Open; all backed by a multi million dollar marketing campaign both on a national and a local level.
As we all know, what really connects fans and players is television. And for the first time, we are able to announce that tennis will have a consistent weekly television platform including 100 hours, live times, with the men's and women's finals in most cases back to back, every Sunday afternoon this summer.
It is supported and backed by a landmark ESPN agreement. I give Mark Shapiro and his team at ESPN a tremendous amount of credit for stepping up, not only to take a shot at this but what they have done to capture the early round coverage of both the preceding Grand Slams at the French and Wimbledon. We appreciate everything they have done and we are committed to making this work.
They are going to produce and air over 90 hours of coverage, covering a minimum of six hours every weekend.
CBS Sports has been with us, as Patrick mentioned, for 35 years. Every time we call Sean and asked him to help us with a new initiative, he's there. The prime time Saturday night finals at the US Open, which was again introduced by CBS. And now they have stepped up to the US Open Series. Our new agreement includes up to four weekends of coverage this year.
They are going to begin with two semifinals and finals on CBS Sports. Thank you, Sean.
Then our friends at NBC will air a long time tradition at Indianapolis, the RCA Championships. That will continue. We have put together a plan to keep them in the US Open Series as well.
The Tennis Channel, as I mentioned, is set to air early round coverage. We are in discussions with them about potentially every tournament on a Monday to Thursday basis.
That coverage, combined with CBS's coverage and USA Network's coverage at the US Open will now air for the first time, 240 hours of live television nationally in that eight week period. That's more national coverage than any sport, including golf and Major League Baseball on a national level.
This is what our concept looks like, a potential ad in USA Today, Sports Illustrated, where for the first time we are going to send to millions of fans an all encompassing summer schedule which will say at the bottom: "Watching the game's biggest stars just got a whole lot easier."
You can see the participating tournaments, where you see on the left hand side of the chart, the ATP men's tournaments, all six committed as part of the US Open Series and you can see the network coverage on the left. On the right hand side of the chart the WTA tournaments - Larry Scott has been just a tremendous help in pulling together each and every one of those tournaments - with one exception, San Diego, which we are optimistic will eventually be part of the US Open Series and I appreciate Larry's help in talking with all of these tournaments and lining that up.
You can see ESPN's full coverage on the women's side, and down to the Pilot Pen where CBS will again air the finals.
We mentioned the finals, every Sunday afternoon, and I've got to thank Mark again for this. He's helped us clear what we consider to be terrific late Sunday afternoon times. For instance, the first week will kick off with the Bank of the West Classic, followed by the Mercedes Benz Cup, the men's tournament. The women's final will begin at 4:00 pm immediately followed by the men's finals at 6:00 PM. As you look down that chart quickly you can see the next week, the Indianapolis men's event at 2:30, followed immediately on ESPN at 4:00. That’s just great promotion for our sport.
I mentioned the players' bonus concept. We are announcing today a new bonus system that links the performance of the US Open Series directly to the US Open. Effective in 2005, the top performer of the US Open Series in those five or six men's events will now be eligible to win double the prize money at the US Open. Second place finisher, third place finishers, eligible to win 50 percent more and 25 percent more.
We are going to introduce that concept in 2004 where the series winner will play for 50 percent more prize money at the US Open.
As an example, had this system had been in place last year on both the men's and women's side with Andy Roddick and Justin Henin Hardenne, being the top performers in the US Open Series, they would have received $2 million, as opposed to $1 million for winning the US Open.
Finally, this is all backed by a national marketing effort. We mentioned our two charter sponsors, Olympus and MassMutual. We are announcing the launch today of USOpenSeries.com which will again provides links to every one of the participating 10 tournaments and a national marketing effort to break in June on TV, on line and in print.
That's a quick look at the concept, it's all about nine cities, 49 days, and 10 tournaments that really count.
Before turning over to these guys that made it all happen, we put together a little video, to show you how we think this can truly bring some excitement to the sport this summer.
ARLEN KANTARIAN: Before I turn it over to Patrick, I would like to thank the USTA team led by Alan Gold, Pierce O'Neil, Michelle Difilippantonio, David Newman, David Brewer and Gary Stevenson, CEO of OnSport. Thanks everybody, back to Patrick.
PATRICK McENROE: They have waited long enough at the table. First, we'll hear from Sean McManus of CBS Sports.
SEAN McMANUS: We'd certainly like to congratulate Arlen on this incredible announcement. I know for a fact that when he had the idea three years ago, every meeting he went to people spent an awful lot of time telling him why he could not pull this off, why this group could not come together for a unified tennis package, and I give you an enormous amount of credit for working hard and really putting your money where your mouth is. It indicates the level of the commitment that the USTA has towards this series.
Although the US Open is certainly the biggest and probably the best showcase of tennis in America, we at CBS Sports don't look at the US Open as just a tennis event. We don't look at the Masters as just another golf event, the Super Bowl as another football game, or the Final Four as a collection of basketball games. We look at those events and indeed we look at the US Open as one of the few great sporting events in this country, that the entire country gets behind and captures the imagination of the entire country. We certainly would not do 44 hours of coverage over two weekends just at any tennis tournament. We would not pre-empt our late night schedule for any tennis tournament, and we certainly would not do a prime time special as we do for the women's final just for any tennis tournament. This event fits into our schedule the same way that the Masters, the Final Four, and the Super Bowl fits into our schedule.
And as great a showcase as this is for tennis, and as great as some of the steps that tennis has taken in the last couple of years, I think we all agree to take the next step that tennis really needs to have some consistency of programming, some simplification of the major events around the Grand Slam events and really unified and aggressive promotional campaign. I think what Arlen and his team have put together is an answer to a lot of those needs. We at CBS Sports are obviously committed to the US Open fully and we are now committed fully to the US Open Series.
I think in years to come when you look back at the history of tennis, I think today will be looked at as an awfully significant day in this sport, and I think that the encouraging thing for us at CBS Sports, is just as big an announcement as this is today. This is just one little baby step forward in a process, where in the coming years will pay enormous dividends for the sport of tennis, for existing fans, new fans and broadcasters and viewers across America. We could not be happier to be associated with the Open, and now to be associated with the US Open Series and I think it's only going to get better for the sport of tennis because of today's announcement.
PATRICK McENROE: The head of programming for ESPN, Mark Shapiro.
MARK SHAPIRO: First, I would echo Sean's statements on Arlen and Pierce O'Neil in particular as well. Both were just tireless and relentless. Ultimately, ESPN and ESPN2 have crowded real estate now and to get this kind of schedule every weekend with this kind of consistency with the volume of hours is next to impossible. And ultimately, just to get Arlen off your call sheet, you had to just give in.
This is our 25th year at ESPN, a special magical year for us and clearly today our commitment to tennis has never been greater. It solidifies our position as the network leader in tennis. This package is 92 hours, to be specific, almost all live, seven of the ten tournaments, of course, we will carry on ESPN and ESPN2; six of them we will carry the finals. When you add in the three Grand Slams, you're talking about 600 overall hours of tennis on ESPN and ESPN2 in an annual year.
So we are thoroughly excited and in many ways, we feel we have a great responsibility on our shoulders because we are driving the boat. We made a decision two years ago that we were going to make tennis a priority at ESPN. It had gotten away from us, the scheduling had gotten away from us, the marketing exposure had gotten away from us, the Slams had certainly gotten away from us, and quickly, we set out to acquire the French Open, next was Wimbledon, and the US Open Series, to set up what Sean has clearly said and is very much true, the ultimate, ultimate showcase for tennis in North America.
We are clearly excited at this opportunity. It raises the profile of tennis coverage overall, and it heightens the exposure of summer tennis in particular, and that's been one of the problems. This is a solution to the lull and clearly there is a lull when you get to the summer, despite the fact that we are carrying a lot of tennis, it's French, it's Wimbledon and it falls into a lull. It sometimes disappears, one would argue, until you get to the US Open and we want to keep it throbbing, we want to keep the pulse and let CBS Sports bring it home.
On the flipside as well, we've always been in big trouble because we have never been able to bid for the US Open because there is so much college football and so much professional football that we really can't schedule the US Open in September, the cable part of the package. So this allows us to have a little piece, to be at the table, and do everything we can to set up the big bouquet.
For ESPN overall, with VOD rights and Pay Per View rights and Spanish Language ESPN Deportes rights, we are going to blow this property right out of the water. We could not be more excited than we are. At the end of the day, it's pretty encouraging to think that tennis has got to ride on our shoulders and successfully will do that, when you look at that schedule, it says it all, July 12, every single weekend through the summer, leading up to the grand daddy, that is just something that bodes well for the future of tennis and hopefully we can build more personalities, because there's no question that the two lack personality right now and needs this consistent exposure and we are going to give it to them.
PATRICK McENROE: For being on the inside at ESPN a couple of years ago when we heard, but coming in and taking over the programming we were all excited, because we knew, and I say this with all sincerity, you were the driving force behind bringing a couple more of the Slams. You are getting me into a little trouble at home, though, with all of the tennis dates I have to cover for ESPN. Talk to my wife a lit bit later. Larry Scott of the WTA Tour. Larry?
LARRY SCOTT: What a great day for tennis and a great day for our fans. It gives me a lot of personal pleasure to be here today. I have the dubious honor of having worked for over a year on this deal when I was with the ATP and trying to bring men's tennis into this with Arlen, Jim and their team and then having taken the helm of the WTA Tour a year ago. It is certainly a significant amount of time working for all of the details and getting to this point today, it gives me such pleasure and such joy to have climbed all of those hurdles and overcome them and to see everyone in tennis pulling together today.
From a global perspective, the US Open Series has an enormous strategic significance from my perspective. One of the greatest advantages of our great sport is its global nature, but it's also one of our tremendous challenges, communicating, how our circuit works, giving fans a chance to follow it on a year round basis is very, very difficult.
The promise of the US Open Series is that it will give us a way to package and promote our sport in the summer and lead up to the US Open in a way that's much more clear and much more compelling than we've had a chance to do before. Simply put, this is great news for our players, for our tournaments and for our fans that want to follow our sport more easily.
This day also represents an ongoing sea of change in terms of how our sport is operating and how the different governing bodies are working together.
In our ever increasingly competitive world, sports and entertainment, where we have got fragmented audiences, we as a sport need to come together and do more and do more together, to focus our limited resources, and focus all of our energies and assets that we have.
A year ago when I took over the WTA Tour, this is something I set out as one of the most important priorities that I had. And for those of you that are in the media that have been around the sport for a long time, you know there's been a lot of talk about that for many years. But I think you see some really visible signs of concrete actions, whether it's the WTA or Butch Buchholz bringing together the tennis world in the First Serve Initiative for kids, or to see every entity in tennis behind this is something that can make us feel proud and make us feel optimistic about the future of the sport.
Among all of the cooperation initiatives in my opinion, there has not been a more significant initiative than this one today, to see the way a Grand Slam tournament, a national federation is committing significant resources, commercially, marketing and promotion resources to join together with the rest of the sport. I don't think we've seen anything like that before.
And it's my hope that this heralds a new era. We see other forms of cooperation like this between the men's and women's tour, tournaments, players and Grand Slam events.
A lot of credit is due to the leadership of the USTA and the other Grand Slams in terms of the Grand Slams seeing their role more broadly and frankly doing more to support the professional game. The Grand Slams enjoy an incredibly privileged position, given their tremendous history and great success and track record.
The US Open Series signifies in the most meaningful way, to me the USTA board seeing its role as bigger than the US Open. My favorite line, and there were many great lines during this process, Alan Schwartz said to me, "I want the USTA to be seen as the umbrella, not the gorilla."
We want to help pull together the sport, and that's well beyond words. With this, the USTA is backing up their words with significant action, and I want to commend Alan and the leadership of the USTA board for a very meaningful shift in their mind set and committing the resources of the organization and the leverage of a great brand like the US Open has with sponsors and putting it to action with the rest of the game.
And Arlen, I've got a tremendous amount of respect, as do all of us in the tennis world, not only for the vision, but the persistence in staying with us and pulling it together. I think today signifies a lot strategically for our sport, and will definitely result in a lot more cooperation initiatives like this by pulling everyone together in this way. So congratulations and on behalf of our players and our tournaments, some of whom were represented today. We could not be more proud to be a part of this.
PATRICK McENROE: Before I go on to the next speaker I'd like to introduce someone who just snuck in, a member of the USTA Board of Directors, a former mayor of this great City of New York and most importantly, as the biggest fan in tennis has one heck of a forehand, Mr. David Dinkins. Still working on that backhand a little bit, Mr. Mayor.
Chris Clouser CEO of ATP Properties.
CHRIS CLOUSER: Thank you. I'm happy to be here with a committed group, a bunch of tennis hotshots and Mr. California. It is a very significant day.
As usual, Larry has said it all, it is an unprecedented cooperation that we are very, very excited about. I must mention Arlen Kantarian, one point we called him "Arlen Contrarian," but Arlen, 2:00 on Sunday morning culminated three or four years of discussions. He did it with class, he did it with determination, he did it with unbelievable amount of energy, but I guess you have to say, he did it with integrity. He showed great integrity in bringing this game together, and I'll always respect him for not what he did, but how he did it.
Each and every person here had something to do with this partnership. Again, at 2:00 in the morning it was completed and now it's gone to the ATP board. We have a reason to believe that it will be finalized in the next few days.
Finally, we believe this series will bring even more great sponsors like Olympus, like Mercedes Benz, like others, and help this game grow more and more.
To the broadcasters, you are the very heart of the exposure of this game, and we appreciate your commitment with NBC, CBS, ESPN and the Tennis Channel.
Congratulations to the tournaments, our member tournaments that are represented here, who have been very active in this and have worked, besides running the greatest tournaments probably in North America, they have committed an amazing amount of time, energy and have done great agreements that I think will grow the game in their respective areas and their respective tournaments.
And to the players, who will benefit as much as anybody, both financially, but also in attracting hopefully new players to the game in the coming years, both current stars and future stars.
Again, to Arlen, to the USTA, to our partners, to the broadcasters, to the tournaments, to the WTA and to everyone, we are pleased and proud to be here today with you. Thank you.
PATRICK McENROE: Donald Dell from Clear Channel Entertainment.
DONALD DELL: Open tennis began in 1968. In Washington, we started the prize money only about 1969 with Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith. We are 36 years old in that game. Probably the oldest on the circuit, except for the US Open. But I can tell you one thing: If you really think and understand pro tennis, this is not just a historic day. It's probably comparable, in American tennis, comparable to Open Tennis '68 because we have a real chance now to bring everybody together.
Much has been said and I want to mention, Alan, who you saw at the beginning under his leadership and cooperation with Arlen, they are a great team. His pro staff team worked tirelessly, hundreds of hours to make this happen, but Alan had to sell the board on it and get the board to commit the dollars. His goal as president of the USTA is to have 30 million players by the year 2010 and I told him years ago, "Alan, there's no chance of doing that without television." This is the first meaningful and consistent circuit that we've ever had on television about tennis.
And so, I commend all of the parties. This is my congratulations to the USTA, the tournaments and pro tennis. Fun to be here.
TIM LEIWEKE: Arlen, you had one federation, two governing bodies, 10 tournaments, 10 founding partners, three networks; what took you so long?
We are the new kids on the block. We are very proud to be a part of this. Our company several years ago created a vision for tennis and partnership with the Southern California Tennis Association and we spent $150 million building the Home Depot Center. Similarly in soccer, we heard critics saying it was crazy to get into tennis; it was dysfunctional, on it's way down, no stars, that the sport as a whole was in trouble.
But we spent a lot of time with Arlen and the USTA. We spent a lot of time with the WTA and ATP and learned very quickly that there was a vision and we compliment Arlen for sticking to that vision and being persistent over these last three years.
Arlen, Alan and everybody at USTA have a passion for the sport that's really quite remarkable, and in that passion, it was contagious, and our company believed in the future, believed in the vision and believed ultimately that the US Open series was going to go a long way towards getting the sport back on the right track. This is a meaningful series, similar to what CBS and ESPN have done for things like, how many times have we heard on the road to the Final Four, there's a process, a system and it's meaningful in the eyes of the fans. They understand what each one of those games means and now they are going to understand what each one of these tournaments means. So we were proud of our investment, we are proud of our passion towards the sport, we are very proud of our partnership with Southern California Tennis Association to not only build the sport on a mass level with this new concept, but on a development level for the kids.
And Arlen, our hats are off to you. We will follow your lead and your vision, we believe in the sport and we are happy to be partnered with ESPN on, what are we, a dozen sports and counting? Mark and us are running out of sports to cover, but Mark will figure something out.
MARK SHAPIRO: I'm still on the call sheet.
PATRICK McENROE: Stacey Allaster from Tennis Canada.
STACEY ALLASTER: It's nice to be here among friends, as a Canadian, but I think the tennis family has no borders and I think I have the privilege of being welcomed into this great US Open Series family.
I'll speak for a moment on behalf of the tournaments, our partners with the USTA. And the enthusiasm you are hearing from the speakers who have gone before me. I can tell you that we, the tournaments, are equally as excited as Donald said about a revolutionary concept to improve pro tennis and tennis in North America.
Individually, each and every one of these tournaments has a long history of being very, very successful. Together, though, we understand that to make a difference, collectively working together, working along side the US Open brand, and our colleagues at the USTA, that collectively, we will be a force to improve professional tennis in North America, and elevate this game to ultimately increase our attendance, our media exposure, media interests, and ultimately more fans which each and every day, every one of these tournament directors gets up to make tennis very successful in their local markets.
From a Canadian perspective, I'll take a moment, if you'll allow me, to thank Alan and Arlen and most importantly, the USTA board for doing exactly what you said you would do, and that was to be inclusive of everyone. Everyone has been invited to the US Open Series, and I think Canada, being part of it, not with only one tournament, but two, is representative of this mission for the USTA.
The USTA has always been a great friend to Tennis Canada. We have a long relationship. We really view this relationship far more than just about our pro events, the Tennis Masters Canada and the Rogers Cup, but really the two governing bodies in North America working together to grow the sport.
Interesting anecdote. In many of the meetings Alan was presented to the WTA Tour board and up went the slides, the USTA's mission to promote and grow the sport in the U.S., and an immediately stopped the conversation. He said: "Our mission is to promote and grow this sport." He believes it and really, today is a celebration of, I think, a new vision for us at USTA and at Tennis Canada.
Over the past few months I've had many international colleagues say to me, why would Tennis Canada want to align itself with US Open brand? Questions like, you'll spend the next four or five years building the US Open brand; you have no equity in it, no value, you're the Canadian Open. I can tell you that it was a very simple response and that truly, those individuals don't understand what the US Open concept really is.
And what it is, it's about all of us having an interest and a significant interest in building the US Open brand because that's the driver in our premiere brand, which is tennis. Tennis Canada wants nothing more than for the US Open brand, Tennis Canada brand, to improve, because ultimately, then, there will be more interest in our sport in Canada, there will be more media, more sponsors, but ultimately for us, more fans being exposed to the game and ultimately, more kids, more adults playing the great sport.
I'd like to take a moment on behalf the tournaments to thank the ATP and the WTA Tour, the leadership that Mark and Larry have shown has been incredibly helpful. So on behalf of the tournaments, we thank you for that, and I must thank the USTA team, they have put in endless hours, I've gotten to know them very well, a great group of people, very proud.
So thank you, Allen. Thank you, Pierce, Jim, and where is that Alan Gold? Sitting back by the pastries? (Laughter) and David. But really, thank you, from all of us, for your vision, your patience, a lot of patience, amongst 10 of us and your persistence.
Lastly I would be remiss, on behalf of the tournaments to not thank our first US Open Series Champions, ESPN and CBS, thanks for committing to our sport and believing in it and most importantly also to Olympus and to MassMutual for sharing in this vision. Ten tournaments, USTA people are good, I can tell you these ten tournaments are as good and collectively we'll put on a great show for you. So, thank you.
PAUL FLORY: I, too, am happy to be here after 30 years in the sport. I am really happy to be anywhere. (Laughter). I am delighted to be here today representing the ATP Masters Series, Canada, Cincinnati, are two such events who have joined the US Open Series.
You might ask the question: Well, why does someone who belongs to ATP Masters Series want to join another series? Well the answer to us was quite simple. We think it works. We think that we can contribute to its success and we think that we can benefit from participation. To be clear, we are not leaving the Masters Series; we are simply joining eight other very successful tournaments in the summer. United together in promotion and television, linking ourselves to the US Open in what we think is a very dramatic way. Television has played a major role in the growth of major sports.
In this particular series as you have seen, we are going to have 240 hours of television, 60 hours of which comes from the Masters Series. They will be promoting and linking these tournaments together leading into the hugely successful US Open. While these events will be linked together with a common cause of building fans to the game, I must say that they will not lose their identity. They will have a certain flavor and uniqueness that in my opinion, will make this series even more appealing.
The idea of a series leading to the US Open is not new. As we know, Jack Kramer 40 years ago talked about it and I heard Donald Dell talk about it for 40 years maybe, too, from what he said here today, but there's no question and others have talked about it but there's no question that it would not have gotten done if it had not been for the stick to it ness and the vigor and vision that the US Open led by Arlen Kantarian and his wonderful group of people and Alan Schwartz, president of the USTA. Without their effort, this would never have happened. Many predicted it would never happen because you'll never get all of these tournaments together that think differently and so on. But they did a marvelous job and I compliment them. I’d also to like to compliment the ATP, because in our particular situation and with the tournaments on the men's side, they worked diligently to try to make the best deal possible in working with the US Open, and with the ATP in getting a good contract working between these two groups. Finally, I know I speak for Canada and ourselves, we look forward with great expectation to what we think will be an exciting step forward in this promotion of North American tennis and we are delighted to be part of it.
PATRICK McENROE: Thank you, Paul. I think you have another 30 years left in you, Paul. And last but not least, Butch, you drew the short straw on this one. What could you possibly come up with? I know you'll come up with something.
BUTCH BUCHHOLZ: I had a similar experience with Arlen. We were in the middle of the NASDAQ Tennis Tournament and Arlen had just gotten his job and he asked to come and see me. And we had just met and he asked, he said: What would the reaction be from tournament directors in North America if the US Open were to use its assets and leverage a television package that would be inclusive of North American tournaments; and what if we went out and got sponsors and help with sponsorship?
And I said, "Arlen, once they pick themselves off the floor, they will be thrilled."
And you did it. And I just think it's great, I just want to congratulate the USTA, Alan Schwartz, and Arlen and that whole USTA board for not allowing the US Open just to be an island by itself. They have invested in the sport, and I congratulate them. Well done.
PATRICK McENROE: Thank you, Butch. Thanks everybody up here.
Q. Mr. Kantarian, you likened unification of the summer tours to NASCAR in this morning's New York Times in that it would take a fragmented project and focus the resources; does the USTA envision exclusive presenting sponsor like NASCAR's partnership with Nextel?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: Let me take the second question first. Yes, we are actually beginning to go to the market with one exclusive presenting sponsor, one that can promotionally activate each and every one of the tournaments, as well as the US Open. We are talking to a select few companies about that as we speak. So we will have an exclusive presenting sponsor, which will get benefits throughout each of the 10 tournaments as well as the Open. Likening it to NASCAR, certainly, anything that can simplify the minds of the fans how a sport works and runs itself up to a championship event, whether it's NASCAR, NFL or Major League Baseball, that's what we think that people in North America want to see, so there are similarities.
Q. These tournaments have been around in their current form for a long time, a lot of them have had TV contracts and been on television. How is this going to be kept from being window dressing the same product up in a different way? Have you done market research on whether or not viewers will actually watch in this format rather than in the format that they have been in?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: Well, I can start and maybe get Larry or Chris can chime in here.
We will have for the first time ever in the sport a nationally branded campaign throughout the country, part of which you saw up here, schedules to hopefully millions of people. We are going to create a uniformed look. We are going to try to bring the excitement of the US Open to every tournament, yet as Paul said, every tournament will continue to have its own character and its own flavor. But I think television is going to drive the interest, a united web site is going to drive more interest, and again that national marketing platform and campaign. Certainly that bonus system is going to help. We'll be posting the so called rankings, kind of a standings, if you will, in the newspapers, each and every week. I think they will hopefully be a little bit of a narrative throughout the season and a little bit of drama as to who is going to enter the US Open and eligible to win twice that $1 million bonus.
So I think a number of things will contribute.
LARRY SCOTT: I can just add from the research we have done over the years, which is quantitative research, but focus groups and talking to fans directly, as well as sponsors and broadcasters, there's a couple of cornerstones of this which are fundamental. One is driving interest through the personalities and stars through the type of marketing and promotion as you see here drives TV ratings. Having a simpler system for fans to follow and knowing where to tune in and finds the sport, drives interest and will drive TV ratings. Tying it together and leveraging the resources that are there, has a multiplier effect in terms of the investments that we can make individually. There is an exponential factor pulling together those investments. So these are the fundamentals that we have been out there as awhile that we as a sport have been wrestling with. The US Open Series allows to us pull all of those levers at least around this season leading up to the US Open.
CHRIS CLOUSER: The broadcast special shown speaks for itself, the consistency, the understanding the venues, the viewer, the sports fan that's going to be there, this is going to be the common look, tone and feel is a huge accomplishment our broadcast partners have made available to tennis fans.
MARK SHAPIRO: If I can add something, ultimately, you have a consistent schedule, the stakes are higher, a broad universal marketing and brand campaign, more live tennis, flat out, this series delivers the regular season that tennis is yearning for.
Q. I'm wondering, is there going to be a separate point system independent interest the WTA and ATP rankings to head into the US Open to determine this leader going into the Open? And lastly, Arlen, who is paying this bonus, which could amount to several million dollars?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: We are in conversations now with both Larry and Mark Miles with regards to what system we will use, whether that be based on overall prize money or some form of point system. That will be announced probably in two to three weeks, so not yet determined.
Q. Who is paying the bonus money?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: USTA.
Q. 100% coming from USTA?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: 100%.
Q. For Sean, do you see your regular schedule as the panacea a for ratings? If you go back to the early 80s, these are 10s and 11s and now they are significantly less, is this what you're going to ride back to the old days when tennis really dominated, or do you need something more in addition to a regular schedule?
SEAN McMANUS: Well, there is no panacea for the ratings that is currently exist on television. It's part of the larger relationship between what's happening in network television and cable television. No, I don't see us going back to the days where we would get double digit figures ratings for tennis. I think this is, as I said at the beginning of my little presentation, that this is the first step in a very positive plan to increase the awareness of tennis in this country, to most importantly build stars; because the one thing we know in television, people will tune in to see stars.
I think when you have the kind of power that Mark and ESPN bring with the hours and hours of promotion and hours and hours of coverage, put on top of that what CBS has commit, I think this is the first of many, many steps to get people in this country to understand what's happening in the world of tennis from July through the US Open to start to build more stars to let people know when tennis is on, which is one of the biggest problems in tennis in the past couple of decades. Fans don't know when the tennis is on. They don't know which event is important and which event is not important.
I think a lot of the questions that people have when they are trying to figure out what's happening in tennis during the summer, have been answered by this new format. Again, it's not going to happen overnight. For one thing, Arlen has said to us, this is going to take a number of years for it to establish itself and for people to really understand what's happening. There's not a panacea at all, but we do deal with a lot of leagues, we have a lot of organizing bodies and the USTA has shown incredible leadership in coming up with a concrete plan that isn't just about optics. This is the great announcement, we have these great schedules, this is not about optics; it's about a concrete plan for promotion and programming that is going to increase the profile of tennis in this country, which will, I'm sure, translate into better ratings in the future on both ESPN, CBS and any network that carries tennis.
Q. With all roads leading to the US Open, how will this bonus and point system affect those players coming out of the qualifying rounds?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: Out of the qualifying round to the US Open?
LARRY SCOTT: Well, if I understand your question correctly, it will depend on the final decision about how those standings work, if they work on prize money, for example, if a player qualifies at individual tournaments, they will earn money toward the standings.
So it's available to all players once they come through the qualifying into the main draw from each of the summer tournaments.
Q. A quick math question for Arlen. Ten tournaments will become 11 if San Diego comes aboard. So you will do a new print run of 10 tournaments that really count and there will be 11 tournaments that really count?
ARLEN KANTARIAN: That would be correct. (Laughter).
Q. And the second is, it's 49 days
ARLEN KANTARIAN: Is this a trick question? (Laughter).
Q. What are the 49 days? I mean, there's six weeks
CHRIS WIDMAIER: The 49 days refer from July 12 through the final of the TD Waterhouse event, which takes place the Sunday, August 29, the day before the US Open will begin on August 30. So if we counted the calendar correctly it should be from July 12 through August 29.
Q. But there's one week in the middle, I guess in the middle where there's no tournament that's on television, or at least on the schedule? There's six weeks
ARLEN KANTARIAN: This year, as you know, there's one week of the Olympics, which is not within the 49 days. So if we changed that to 49 days of competition that might be more accurate and might make you happier, but we'll probably stick with 49 days.
Q. And Chris, the ATP has a prohibition against a series within a series, and even though it violates its own rules by having the Masters Series, how did it come up with an answer to have the US Open Series within its own events?
CHRIS CLOUSER: Well, I think the tournaments spoke very loudly. They wanted to participate. There has not been a week in the past year. And I know the year before that Andre Agassi and others have inquired about this US Open Series and how important it is to the future of the game in North America and the world. So, as we kept the board apprised throughout the process, they are open to it and see the benefit of it. As they adopt it and consider it in its final form, I think they have come to the conclusion that it's the right thing to do at the right time in coordinating all of these groups. I think we'll have a good US Open Series.
MARK SHAPIRO: Just to add something here, I think the research we've done with our audience and with some of the players, this is being very warmly received, and the players, going back to Sean's point, know that this is a fragmented environment. Other than the Super Bowl, ratings for all sports are dropping. You need to make it easy for people to understand, an easy watch, an easy listen and easy following. And anything you can do to drive interest, which a series clearly does with the raised stakes, is a winning formula for all of us. We will tell you that this is the US Open Series is fan friendly. From our research, we found that the tennis fans, the core tennis fans, they know when the events are taking place. They know when the tournaments are taking place, but beyond that, the general broader sports interested fan, doesn't necessarily have any idea of the semblance of the schedule. This will make it clear for the core fan and at the same time build a following for the broader, casual fan.
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