USTA purchases majority stake in Cincinnati's Western and Southern Financial Group Masters Tournament

August 4, 2008 11:50 AM
The USTA has reached an agreement with Tennis Cincinnati to acquire a majority interest in the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters – the second-highest-attended summer tennis event in the U.S. after the US Open. Plans call for significant upgrades to the tournament facility, and to the overall fan experience. Additionally, the USTA and Tennis Cincinnati are in discussions to potentially secure a top women’s tournament for a future combined men’s and women’s event.

Under the new arrangement, Tennis Cincinnati will retain an ownership position in the tournament, and Paul Flory (Tournament Chairman), Bruce Flory (Tournament Director), Elaine Bruening (Tournament COO) and the current tournament staff will continue to run the day-to-day operations of the tournament. The tournament will continue its charitable mission, as overseen by its long-time Tennis for Charity Board, supporting Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital Medical Center, the Barrett Cancer Center and Tennis for City Youth. In 2007, proceeds from the tournament were donated to Children’s Hospital for the 34th consecutive year, with donations totaling more than $7 million to local charities over that time.

Significant upgrades are planned for the tournament beginning in 2009, including a multi-million dollar stadium renovation and an enhanced broadcast television schedule.

“The Cincinnati area enjoys a strong tennis tradition with some of the most passionate fans in the sport, and we look forward to working with the Florys to further enhance the excitement and appeal of this great event,” said Arlen Kantarian, USTA CEO of Pro Tennis. “This tournament has elevated the sport of tennis in the country’s heartland, while providing significant contributions to community causes. This is a legacy we look forward to building upon.”

“The USTA, with its outstanding major event, the US Open, brings a world-class approach to promoting tennis events and we look forward to working with the entire team to make our event even more player- and fan-friendly,” said Paul Flory, Tournament Chairman. “Our mission has always been to support our charitable efforts, and expanding the tournament is a great step in this direction.”

“Western & Southern Financial Group is proud of its longstanding partnership with this tournament and we are pleased to welcome the USTA to the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters family,” said John F. Barrett, Chief Executive Officer, Western & Southern Financial Group. “We look forward to continuing our support of the event and to working with Tennis Cincinnati and the USTA in the future.”

"Tennis for Charity is excited about this partnership and what it will mean toward the growth of the tournament and our charitable mission," said Ken Berry, President of Tennis for Charity.

Financial terms have not been disclosed, and the closing of the purchase remains subject to certain closing conditions, including ATP Tour approval. With the purchase of the men’s tournament, the USTA will become the fourth national governing body (Tennis Canada, Italian Tennis Federation and German Tennis Federation) to own an ATP Masters Series tournament. The addition of a premier women’s tournament would transform the event into one of the three major combined men’s and women’s events on the U.S. professional calendar, outside the US Open.

The Western & Southern Financial Group Masters is the oldest tournament in the nation still played in its original city, and has been operated by Paul Flory and his team since 1975. The event, which is a charter member of the Olympus US Open Series, consists of the top 50 men’s players in the world and past champions include Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and John McEnroe. In 2007, the event generated outstanding attendance (165,422), U.S. television total viewership (more than 7 million) and international television viewership (more than 20 million).

The Western & Southern Financial Masters is the third stop on the Olympus US Open Series in 2008. The Olympus US Open Series brings together the ten summer tournaments in North America, three television networks, tennis’ sanctioning bodies and top corporate sponsors during the summer tennis season. Since its launch in 2004, the Series has had a major impact on the sport by doubling television viewership, increasing event attendance and attracting new corporate partners to the sport. Combined with the US Open, the Series in 2007 generated nearly 1.7 million attendees, more than 121 million domestic TV viewers, 340 live TV hours and 32 million website visits.