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August 24, 2002

Mike Davies

Anne Worcester


Q. Have you guys almost reached a plateau in terms of what we can expect here attendance-wise or is 100,000 still going to be the driving force for the next eleven months?

MIKE DAVIES: I would think -- personally I looked at this. I was asked a question the other day about how -- when we first came here we sort of said this stadium is actually too big. We'd like to have it smaller. And now when we see last night and today, I think we get -- we have got some vision for, you know, five years down the road type of thing that we can keep pushing this attendance record that we have got. I think that it's a matter of constantly going out to the public and getting them more aware of this event as an event, as a happening; not just a tennis tournament. Anne and I and Butch have always talked about the fact that we need to have this as a happening. The GHO, I can't imagine that the GHO, what their numbers were when they started out, but, you know, it grows and grows and grows and people start to say we should do that one day and they do it and then they tell their friends and they tell their friends, and as long as they have a good experience, I think we have still got growth there. I am really a little surprised frankly that we -- that we didn't beat our own attendance by more than we did. I was certainly hoping -- I didn't think that we would get 100,000. I thought -- was looking at 96, 97,000.

Q. Going into today or going into --

MIKE DAVIES: Going into the week.

Q. You came close today, I think the weather kind of killed the walkup --

MIKE DAVIES: Yeah, no doubt about it. I think that the difference between 500 people and a thousand people, et cetera, you could -- you could say that there's quite a lot of people that look at the weather and say there's no point in going out today or looking at the forecast or looking at that radar screen.

ANNE WORCESTER: Especially when you can watch it live on CBS. Sometimes our very strong television package almost hurts us.

Q. Do you think that might have hurt you Friday because I think Friday with the way you had the semifinals set up, you just left it out there to have some really, really big numbers and you didn't quite get those numbers. Kind of disappointing, I thought, we consider 9,700 disappointing.

ANNE WORCESTER: That's what's so funny about this. I have visited every other major women's tennis tournament on this planet and our box ring alone is bigger than most women's tennis stadia. 6,600. And so it's just so ironic that -- and I have lost perspective too because I look at a 10,000, almost 10,000 attendance for Friday night and I think oh, geez, why wasn't it 12. So this -- the size of the Connecticut Tennis Center has changed our perspective but we need to keep remembering that we are the best attended in the world; we became the best attended in four short years compared to tournaments in much larger cities, Tokyo, Sydney, L.A. , san Diego, Paris to name a few, and most of those tournaments have been in those markets for upwards of 20, 25 years. In 20 years I have never been a part of something that's turned around so quickly.

MIKE DAVIES: And generally takes ten years to become an overnight success.

ANNE WORCESTER: That's Mike's favorite quote.

Q. You mentioned this event still needs to become like a happening, but it seems with what everything this tournament has done in terms of like the jazz festival, all the things that go on out there, it is a happening. In that respect, is it a little disappointing that the numbers weren't quite up to what you were hoping for at -- was it still like too early to expect a big jump like that?

MIKE DAVIES: I think it brings you back to the reality of the economy and what is happening out there today. The economics of it all and I think you have got to be realistic about growth and percentages and things like that and I don't -- we are not going to jump 15% or 20% in one year. We are not going to do it. We have to, you know, would we have jumped some numbers if Kournikova had played here? Probably. She's probably the only one that -- up there that would have brought in substantial numbers. But that's going to happen one year or whatever and that's going to be gone the next. That's not, you know, serious growth as far as sustained growth. That will be just a one-time thing.

Q. The attendance numbers notwithstanding and what this tournament has become in the -- it is just like finetuning now, tweaking little things? What more is there still left to do to make it that much better if you can make that it much better?

MIKE DAVIES: I think there's -- I think there's always things to do with a tennis tournament. We have been involved and looked -- and been part of the tennis scene now for a lot of years. When you look at the Wimbledons and the US Open's and the French Championships, I go back to when I played in those -- in those tournaments, and what they are today, I mean, that growth over there so I mean, where this tournament can be in 20 years, I mean, who knows where it could be. Wouldn't it be nice to sort of set a goal to sort of say that you know, that we are going to sell out this stadium? When is the first -- when would we think the first time that we'll sell out this stadium and then after that, we want to sell it twice and we'll want to sell it another time. So I think it's continually trying to do that. With the different things that we have going on here, we have some, you know, attractive things happening and so it's an attractive place to be out, et cetera, we are always going to be looking for other things that can be attractive and can be a good thing to bring into the mix. We changed the site around from last year to this year and I have not heard a negative about -- I don't know whether you have, as far as the site is concerned. I think the site, you know, everybody says was terrific. We'll do our recaps with our own people and our own reports, et cetera, but, you know, and we'll tweak what we need to tweak and it's constantly trying to improve it.

Q. What do you mean you changed the site, you mean the location of tents?

ANNE WORCESTER: Yeah, we had to make major changes to accommodate larger crowds at counter space, at cash registers, seating and it all worked.

Q. Physical layout?

ANNE WORCESTER: Yes, to accommodate those large crowds that were unexpected last year. So this year we were better prepared. It's just one example of how you make changes and make improvements. I think our marketing, it will be very interesting to come out of this tournament and look at our marketing and our PR and our promotional plans, probably look at marketing to a larger radius. We did very well with those travel packages that we created this year. Do you guys know about that? We created travel packages for the first time, of packaging box seats and hotel, downtown hotels, and restaurant vouchers, and welcome baskets and transportation to and from the site and our goal was to sell 50. That was our sort of optimistic goal, 50 in year one, and we did. So being the only women's only tennis tournament in the northeast I think we'll continue to market to a wider radius. But yeah the wrap-up meetings will be very interesting this year.

MIKE DAVIES: Yeah. It will be.

Q. Has anything come up this week in terms of maybe we should try this next year?

ANNE WORCESTER: Keep our food concessions opened longer. It's a tiny little detail, but, you know, it's things like that.

MIKE DAVIES: I think we have got to look at our start times. I am going to get -- I am getting a report on the length of all the matches and I really think that our -- the average length of our singles matches is probably longer than most tournaments because the standard is so close. And we ran pretty close to going into evening sessions with some -- then you got the evening crowd and, you know, and could create problems. So we might have to look at start times, things like that. There will be, you know, lots of little things that we want to take a look at.

ANNE WORCESTER: Do you guys have any good suggestions?

Q. What will were you most happy with this week?

ANNE WORCESTER: I was most happy that last year wasn't a fluke. I was most happy that we again got 19 of the top 25 players in the world and that we had 93,000 people here. It's easy to have one success but when you stay there it's even more meaningful. I think for us the barometer is attracting the non-tennis fan and I think there's a lot of people who came here this week and listened to the jazz and ate the food and had a Mich Light and shopped at Lux Bond and Green and went into the Sports Zone with their kids and watched very little tennis, you know, I think that we really are providing entertainment, in addition to the world class tennis. That does not happen overnight. So I'd say those are the things that mean the most. And I guess there's a third thing and that's it was really fun to get to know some of the younger players this week. Iroda Tulyaganova is adorable and rambunctious and spunky and Daniela Hantuchova, she just told me on the court she said, I think this is one of the greatest events in the world. And you guys know what I said next. Can I sign you up for next year? So I don't travel the Tour like I use to. I used to be out week in week out, so this is sort of my nine days to meet the younger players, and I still really enjoy that part of it. I really do.

MIKE DAVIES: I must say that I was very impressed with the standard of play. I think that, for instance, I mean, that last doubles you saw you are not going to see a better doubles match than that. That was, I mean, very, very good doubles. Very entertaining all that. But the young girls coming up, I mean, these girls, they just hit the ball so well, they play so well now. The standard of tennis has risen with the women so much.

ANNE WORCESTER: That's coming from somebody who five years ago couldn't stop calling the tennis player the girls. The women, the women. The birds, the chicks, I mean, I couldn't keep up with all the terminology. The women. The women. The women.

Q. He actually knows a few by name now?

ANNE WORCESTER: It's scary. We were in the scheduling meetings this week, and he's coming out with (snaps fingers) I said Mike, it's scary how well you know women's tennis.

MIKE DAVIES: Never dealt with it before. But they do. They play so well. And they are so cute too. I, you know, they are great for the game, they sell the game.

ANNE WORCESTER: Anastasia Myskina, you guys last year, brought her out for the draw, you thought I was crazy, she says the Pilot Pen was the beginning of her ascension in the rankings. She got through qualifying, upset Coetzer, lost to Davenport in the second round. Now she's top 16 in the world. She's going to be on the cover of GQ, I understand, in October or something. So these are the superstars of tomorrow and it's nice for fans to get to see them and get to know them here at the Pilot Pen.

Q. At this point is Venus get into the logo or the name of the tournament?

ANNE WORCESTER: She and I have been discussing that today.

MIKE DAVIES: We'll have to name the center court after her.

Q. At what point do you really start chasing them down with a piece of paper in your hand saying: Sign here?

ANNE WORCESTER: It's a funny sequence. I don't have a piece of paper in my hand because they -- the players have to enter officially with the WTA. Then the WTA notifies me. So they can tell me that they are playing, you know, Capriati, I had a verbal commitment from Stefano Capriati. He assured me she was coming last October, but until they enter with the WTA, you know, it's not official --

MIKE DAVIES: Official.

ANNE WORCESTER: -- officially enter. I start to talk to them here. Then I go down to the Open and watch their matches or meet with their people and then keep in touch during the fall and the holidays and hope somebody commits, you know, January, February, and then I go down to Miami in March and that's sort of my one and only recruiting trip of the year and that's usually when they are starting to think about the summer. WTA has new rules they don't have to commit until March 31st now. Used to be they had to commit earlier. Not that they ever did, but there used to be rules, and this year I went to France. I was -- it was really a personal trip and I just added some business on to it and turned out to be lucky because we got Daniela there. So it's not really a paper in hand. It's an ongoing relationship thing. It's keeping in touch with everybody and, you know, somebody asked me the other day why -- how Venus ever came here. Chris, was it you?

Q. Yes.

ANNE WORCESTER: And I remembered a story that I had not remembered in a long, long time. Mike I don't even know if you remember this. Remember the Lipton was trying to get me to sell sponsorships for them. And they had a sales meeting in October of 1998. I went down there sort of reluctantly because I don't really have a lot of free time to sell sponsorships for anybody else but Pilot Pen tournament and the sales meeting ended at 4 o'clock and we were in Miami and I thought well, what the heck, I will borrow Kim Hall's car and drive to West Palm Beach.

MIKE DAVIES: This is where you went to their house. I know the story.

ANNE WORCESTER: I haven't really thought about it until Chris brought it up the other day. I went and visited them for three hours and had a good ole time and at the very end sort of said, well, I am working with New Haven now because I was their former CEO, and they were surprised I was working in New Haven. New Haven was a new tournament that wasn't really on the map. Venus had been committed to the tournament for Atlanta. When the tournament switched to New Haven the WTA Tour didn't make her play so she didn't play here in 1998. At the end of the night I said, well, if you ever, you know, if you ever want to come play New Haven that would be great. Maybe 30 seconds of this three hour visit was spent on this tournament. I left. I said to Mike -- I called Mike from the car phone and I said well, I don't think it did any good. It was fun and it was interesting to go to their home for the first time and see where they live. But I don't think I made any -- I don't think I even got to first base. And like a week later on Halloween the WTA called me and said this is no trick, this is your treat, Venus Williams just entered the Pilot Pen. I have never been so surprised at until Hingis entered last week I should say. Those two are probably tied for the biggest surprises come to think of it. If I never went to the sales meeting, if I didn't borrow the car, if it took me three hours to get there, you know, somebody was watching over us.

Q. Last year Butch was up there and obviously thrilled to say that you guys made a profit for the first time. When do you know the bottom line on the bottom line this year?

MIKE DAVIES: We wouldn't know the bottom line 'til probably, oh, mid-November, something like that. We have to -- obviously we have got a lot of vendors that got to be paid off and bills that will be coming in, et cetera. We'll get close to it by November, but our investors will get their number in their tax returns filled out ready for them at the meeting that we have in Florida during the tournament down there, during the Nasdaq. My first shot at it right now is that it is going to be -- it's got to be close to what we did last year. I think that our budget reflects that and I always hoped that I am going to be real surprised by the expenses being lower, but they don't ever seem to be. We try to -- obviously we try to do as good a budget as we possibly can, but we also -- I instinctively like to budget a little higher and put contingencies so that we can have the surprise -- hopefully the surprises on the right side rather than the wrong side. So I think we'll be okay because I think our ticket -- our income, part of that is -- we pretty well know roughly what that is. Now we have just got to hope that our expenses don't get out of hand. We look around the site which we were going to do that site visit which I thought was a little overoptimistic for you to try and do that today, but we were going to look around the site and the people say, you know, boy, that's beautiful, you know, those flowers are beautiful, all that, yeah, trouble is it cost us $26,000 for those damn flowers. I am thinking of the investing in some plastic flowers or something that I can keep here. (Laughter) But, you know, you don't put on an event like this and make that place look nice because you guys have been here. There's nothing here. This is -- it's bear bones, you know, and it comes together as a little village and we create an ambience so that public enjoy it.

Q. We have been here a long time and I for one can remember way back, with the success of what is going on now is there any long range plans, short range plans, no plans to maybe bring the men's tournament back and run a conjunctive one or try to run two different ones?

MIKE DAVIES: No plans at all for a men's event here. It's not practical. There's --it is just not practical to put them both together. It's not practical from a financial point of view at all. It's not practical in terms of, you know, you are going to get the women to start sharing the stage with the men and do the women say, well, fine, we'll, you know, find another place to play for -- with another tournament or maybe not show there. There are many reasons why it's not practical. We have got a good product here and we need to keep maturing it. We need to just keep doing the thing. We'll always be open to, you know, any suggests or something that comes up, but as far as I am concerned, there's no genie standing out there saying look, if you have the men we'll pay you $2 million. Somebody wants to say that to us I will certainly listen. When they say take the men and I will tell you what, this is going to cost you an extra $2 million, we say, oh, right, well now, how am I going to bring in that kind of income ---

ANNE WORCESTER: Yeah, I mean, we have to share the lockerrooms and share the practice courts and share the transportation and share the players lounge and anything that would make our top players less comfortable here is not something we are interested in looking at.

MIKE DAVIES: Exactly. Our objective here is -- our theory is to try to make this one of the most attractive stops on the Tour for the players so that they walk away and they tell other players in the locker room that this stop is a great stop on the Tour. And we'll do -- what -- we try to do everything we can to make that happen. We try to keep their commitments minimal. We don't have them at sponsor parties, left, right and center, in which they feel like little bit out of -- you know, they are teenagers. A lot of these -- and they want to have fun. They want to practice. They want to eat and they want to watch some television. We want to make it easy for them.

Q. It's only practical for this to be a Tier II event as well; correct?

ANNE WORCESTER: Yeah, I don't think --

MIKE DAVIES: At the moment --

ANNE WORCESTER: John Doland of the WTA was saying you guys have the facility, the attendance, the player field, you should be a TierI. Which is a very nice compliment but it doesn't make any sense for the WTA to have a Tier -- WTA likes to have their Tour in peaks and valleys and so we are not really meant to be the peak that we are the week before the US Open. But we are and we are going to stay there. Actually the president of the WTA was here last night, he was very impressed with the crowd and the music and the feel and the buzz and the electricity. I mean, I haven't seen the guy so happy in a year. All he does is work, and he was the first time I saw him like really enjoy -- He was really impressed with the platform that we put the players on. I am ending my sentences with prepositions I must be tired.

Q. When do you not work? Do you have any time off?

MIKE DAVIES: She has tomorrow off. What else do you want?

ANNE WORCESTER: Then I have to go to the US Open on Monday. It's tough because the US Open, it's not just player recruiting time. We have tournament meetings, and everybody comes from the whole tennis world to New York. So whether you are having meetings with agents or players, or other tournament directors sharing ideas there's just a lot going on. So over the next two weeks I am already going to the US Open or to New York for tennis meetings at least 7 of the 14 days. So then school starts, so vacations are hard. So I think I am going to go away in October for my 10th anniversary. I haven't told that you yet. Can I have some time off?

MIKE DAVIES: No. Can't too it.

ANNE WORCESTER: You guys, thanks a lot. You have been -- we really are so lucky to have such a great media core. Around the year. You make it fun.

MIKE DAVIES: One thing well, we have said this for the last few years. One thing we can't complain about is we get all the support we deserve, I mean, we get so much support from the New Haven, Connecticut media and the newspapers. We get tremendous -- nobody can turn around, you know, we can't make excuses and say well, if we only had more press coverage. We get tons of it. We really do appreciate it.

ANNE WORCESTER: We show the players what you write. I mean, I send the players the clips, you know, when Dave Solomon did that column on Laura Granville, I made sure she left here with an original. These players are teenagers, and they are young and they have egos. But when they see their faces -- we have all your clips on the -- in the player center all over the wall, they love seeing their name in lights because in other cities they just write about Venus and Serena. You guys always look for the stories with the lower-ranked players, the up-and-comers, and it's great. You appreciate more than just what is on top. So thanks a lot. Thanks for a good week.

End of FastScriptsâ?¦.

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