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November 13, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests. Welcome to the ATP Thanks Shanghai press event. Mr. Brad Drewett, CEO of ATP international, tournament director of Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai. Welcome.
Mr. Sun Jinfang, director of Tennis Sport Management Center of China Administration of Sports, managing deputy director of Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai Organizing Committee.
Mr. Yu Chen, director of Shanghai Administration of Sports, managing deputy director of Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai Organizing Committee.
Mr. Qiu Weichang, deputy director of Shanghai Administration of Sports, deputy director of Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai Organizing Committee.
I call up before Brad Drewett, president of ATP International, who would like to say a few words.
MR. BRAD DREWETT: Thank you, everyone, for being here today.
Today's press conference is about really thanking the people of Shanghai, the Shanghai municipal government, and all the other organizations that have been involved since way back in 2002 in bringing this wonderful event to Shanghai.
I have with me up here some of the people that have become great friends of the ATP and their organizations, and have been great supporters of this event since it was first played here back in 2002.
It's been an amazing journey. When you think back just 10 years ago, the ATP had an event called the Heineken Open played at a much smaller stadium. I think the capacity there was around about 4,000 people. That event used to attract somewhere in the region of 20, 25,000 people for the entire week. That was, as I said, only 10 years ago.
And now here we are with an event at this magnificent stadium, the Qi Zhong Stadium, purpose built. And I must say, I think anyone in the tennis world regards this facility as one of the top five facilities in the world. So when you think of that, back in the Heineken Open days, to now, just 10 years in this facility, and all that's happened in between, it really is an incredible story in so many ways.
Really for me two of the key elements of making all this happen in the first place has been the incredible vision and support of the Shanghai municipal government, the Shanghai Administration of Sport, and also the China Tennis Association.
I suppose it's easy now when you look at the success of this event to say, Well, of course this would have happened. But back in 2001, when we first started discussing the possibility of bringing our marquee event, the ATP's marquee event, one of the five biggest events in the world, to China, not everyone was confident that it would be a success.
At that time, I've said often, it was the biggest international sporting event ever to come to China. There were some I think here in China that didn't think the marketplace was ready for such a big event, and also some in the tennis world who weren't sure that the Chinese market was ready for such a big event.
Well, we held it out there in Pudong in the convention center. I believe the numbers that week were about 95% full, and it was an incredible success.
I can remember just the week before that event, very concerned about the number of people who would attend. But really it proved to be concerns that weren't well-founded, as the capacity crowd every night filled out the stadium.
So to me that was the first major step, to have a government here at the time in Shanghai that was prepared to take the risk of staging this event for the first time in 2002.
The second key moment, from my point of view, was, once again, the Shanghai government, the Shanghai Administration of Sports' decision to once again recommit to the Tennis Masters Cup for another four years and to build this facility.
We could have easily gone back to the convention center in Pudong. That was a great facility. The event worked very well there in 2002. But the Shanghai government wanted to make a long-term commitment to tennis and to this event, and made the incredible decision to build, as I said, what is now regarded as one of the best tennis facilities in the world.
And so now in 2009 we're going to have another wonderful event with almost sold-out crowds, and the event will be moving. As I said to someone this morning, that's not untypical for this event. It has moved around the world, and was always eventually going to move from Shanghai. It's been great while it's been here.
But what I'm very excited about now is the next step for the people of Shanghai and the Shanghai government and all the tennis fans that we now have here in Shanghai, and that's going to be the ATP 1000, beginning from next year.
We're very, very confident that Shanghai is now ready for its own permanent major event. The ATP 1000 next year will be one of the top eight events on the regular season on the ATP Tour, a 56-draw, a different style of event, a more traditional event where there will be lots of players, many courts in use.
I believe all the numbers we hear coming out of China now, that the increased interest in tennis, whether it be through television viewership, the interest of sponsors, the participation numbers, it's always hard to get exact numbers on participation, but I understand the number of people playing tennis in China has over doubled since 2004.
So there's every reason to believe this growth of tennis in China will continue beyond this year's Tennis Masters Cup when we have the ATP 1000 beginning next year.
The ATP has developed a wonderful relationship with many different organizations in Shanghai, and also in China. We have a great partnership with Li Ning, as you know, one of the leading, if not the leading, sports goods manufacturer in China. ATP product is now in their 5,000 stores. That's another indication of the growth and interest in not only the ATP but in tennis.
The ATP also, looking to the future, we'll be launching our own ATP China-specific website. That will be launched after Chinese New Year in 2009, so that's a very exciting development. I know the usage of the ATP website, the English version, is growing at a phenomenal rate literally monthly.
I'm sure there's a lot of users of that website here in China. But now to have our own China-specific website I think will be a great, great facility, a great way for us to better communicate with all the tennis fans here in China.
So you can see from everything I've said today, I commonly use and talk about the Shanghai government. That's a common theme throughout the last five or six years. Their passion, their commitment, their vision, together with the CTA.
We look forward very much to continuing our partnership with them for many, many, many years to come, and helping them to develop their ambitions here in China for men's professional tennis, helping the CTA fulfill their ambitions in terms of developing great young tennis players here in China.
I know the women, you currently have 6, Ms. Sun, 6 of the top 10 players in the women. We're looking forward to a similar number in men's tennis, hopefully in the not-too-distant future. I know they have some wonderful programs, and the ATP has, over the years, worked together with the CTA in assisting them in ways, like offering coaching, offering world-class coaching.
This week actually we have an auction out there where the players have offered many of their player items, where we're trying to raise some more money which we'll be donating to the CTA to further help them with their programs.
So in closing, once again, thank you to the Shanghai municipal government and the Shanghai Administration of Sport and the CTA. Thank you to all the tennis fans. Thank you to the media. I look out there today and I see many people who have become good friends. We've known each other now for quite some time.
Over 500,000 people would have seen the Tennis Masters Cup when we finish here this week. That is a great testament to what's happened in the last five years. But certainly we at the ATP and the whole tennis family are looking forward to the next step in this wonderful journey of developing tennis in this great country.
THE MODERATOR: Now I would like to invite Mr. Drewett to present a trophy or actually crystal bowl on behalf of the ATP to the Chinese site and the organizing committee, and also the tennis SportsCenter of China Administration of Sports.
The support of the Shanghai Administration of Sport is also imperative. Mr. Drewett would like to present a crystal bowl to Mr. Weichang.
We'd like to call up Mr. Yu Chen, director of Shanghai Administration of Sports, deputy director of Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai Organizing Committee, who would also like to say a few words.
MR. YU CHEN: (Through translation.) On behalf of the Tennis Masters Cup Organizing Committee and also Shanghai Sports Administration, I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to the ATP as well for your positive assessment, and also for your full support throughout the five Tennis Masters Cups.
From the year of 2002, because of the trust from and support from ATP, Shanghai had the honor to host the first Tennis Masters Cup. Also, because of that event, we have a chance to host one of the top events in Shanghai. Of course, we had a chance to draw some top players to be with us among the Chinese fans.
Throughout the years of 2005 to 2008, the Tennis Masters Cup again has been stationed in Shanghai, during which the organizing committee and the ATP have been enjoying a very positive and smooth cooperation and also communication, raising the bar of this event higher and higher.
Throughout the Tennis Masters Cup also, the residents and people in Shanghai have really come to the point to enjoy the charisma of tennis. The market of tennis in Shanghai has been making steady progress. In addition to that, the population of tennis in Shanghai has been increasing on an annual basis. The facilities in Shanghai have been improving, as well. Shanghai is shaping up as the city of tennis.
I can say that tennis really, thanks to the event of the Tennis Masters Cup, the sport of tennis has been growing in this city. Also, at the same time, the Tennis Masters Cup has also drawn a lot of sponsors, becoming a platform for many different brands and the communication and promotion for their business.
Also, because of that, the commercial value of the event has also been developed and explored. Thanks to the Tennis Masters Cup, once again, the experience and legacy we have is really rich, and we'd like to utilize this kind of experience to organize more big events down the line.
I'm sure we'll be able, thanks to this event itself, to consolidate our foundation to successfully run the 2010 World EXPO in Shanghai, and many more big events down the down.
Again, our heartfelt thanks to the ATP for your full support and your help. Once again, do enjoy the rest of the tournament.
THE MODERATOR: I would like to call up Mr. Yu Chen again to present a gift to the ATP. Mr. Drewett, on behalf of the ATP, will accept this trophy.
The floor is open for questions to our guests.
Q. Ms. Sun, can you give us figures about how many people have started playing tennis in the last four years? Can you assess the development of men's tennis in China?
MS. SUN JINFANG: (Through translation.) Thank you for your question. I believe in the year of 2002 the population of tennis perhaps was around two million to four million. However, ever since then, especially afterwards, the next four years, particularly after the huge success of the women's doubles in the Athens Olympics, the population has already doubled.
That was one reflection. On the other side, the sport commodities, particularly the tennis commodities in the market, actually have doubled, as well.
This is a very good example to illustrate the revenue as a result of the tennis commodities have also really been doing very well.
In addition, to your second question, yes, it is true that China's women's tennis has had a breakthrough. Really we have reason to believe the men's side will pick up, especially in the next four years. I certainly have reasons to believe that in the next four years, thanks to the Tennis Masters 1000, we will have at least one male player to show up actually, if not more.
Well, of course this person might show up through different channels. It could be thanks to a wild card or some other channel, although I do believe a male player will be able to show up in the Masters 1000.
Also I do believe we will crack the bottleneck to make sure the men's side will pick up.
Q. Because of the tournament next year, therefore this venue has to be extended with some other places. What plans do you have? What plans are made to extend this venue for the bigger ATP tournament next year?
MR. YU CHEN: (Through translation.) We have already given this promise, thanks to the help from the Chinese Tennis Management Center. We will be able to build more venues. Actually this is a guarantee. For example, certain projects for certain venues are already under construction right now.
Madam Sun also added, for example, venues to contain 6,000 people and a few of them containing 200 to 400 audience are also under construction. So this is definitely something that we are going to take care of.
Q. I have two questions. First of all, we know that the population of tennis fans really is increasing. According to the statistics I got, we have over 550,000 people playing tennis. If that's the case in Shanghai, if you calculate it, break it down, my calculation is that each day you have at least 88,000 people playing tennis. You will need really 4,000 tennis courts in Shanghai. Is that true? Is that really the case? And also, my second question, to Brad, when do you think the Tennis Masters Cup, the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup, will be back to Shanghai again?
MS. SUN JINFANG: (Through translation.) In short, right now it is very difficult. There is an issue of supply and demand. Obviously demands really have preceded the supplies we have.
If you break down the population in China as well, in the northern part of China, basically the focus will be on building indoor stadiums, whereas in the south the focus will be on building outdoor stadiums.
In China right now, not only do people want to play tennis over weekends, but also during the week, for example in the morning or late during the evening. In short, I believe the fact is that the degree and love of tennis has already exceeded the speed of building tennis venues in China.
Especially right now, the pleasant thing is I feel many tennis courts have been included into small communities and many compounds. This is certainly something we're very happy with.
MR. BRAD DREWETT: I expect the ATP 1000 to be a huge success. That being the case, I don't foresee the Tennis Masters Cup returning to Shanghai any time in the foreseeable future. It's very, very rare, and I was thinking while Ms. Sun was talking, of any major city that holds two major tennis events in the same city during the year.
The only city I can think of is Paris, where they have the French Open and the Masters event. So for that reason you never say never, but certainly this is the next step for Shanghai. It's a very exciting step, and one which I think the next 10, 20, so on years will be the event which will be the pinnacle of men's professional tennis here in Shanghai.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Due to time constraints, we'd have to wrap up our Q&A session. Thank you very much for attending.
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