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August 21, 2010
BRUCE FLORY: My name is Bruce Flory, and I'm the tournament director of the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women's Open.
On behalf of the tournament staff and volunteers, I would like to welcome you to a very exciting press conference that we have today. I hope you can see me. I promise I'm here, but visibly it's a little bit tough.
We have an exciting program. Before we get started, I would really like to just introduce the people up here so you kind of know how everybody is, and then they'll get a chance to speak.
To my far left is the president chief executive officer of the ATP World Tour, Adam Helfant.
Next to Adam is the chief executive officer of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, Stacey Allaster.
Next to Stacey is the chief executive of the men's professional tennis, the USTA, and the tournament director of the US Open, Jim Curley.
A very familiar face to all of us is the chief executive officer of Wester & Southern Financial Group, John Barrett.
To kick things off on the program, just want to tell you a little bit about what's going on. In the past, obviously we've had a very successful two weeks. It's about to end tomorrow. A lot of mixed emotions, because you work a long time to have all these world-class players here, and it seems like five minutes later it's gone.
But we've had a tremendous, just a tremendous tournament on all levels. When people ask us, Was the tournament successful, you know, there's a lot of different ways you can answer was it successful. Was it great matches? Great crowds? Did the fans have fun? Did everything just go as planned?
I think almost by all accounts it has been very, very successful. We had good weather. We had the women in here last week, and it was tremendous tennis. It was a little bit warm for those of you that were here, but the men got a little bit of a break with better weather.
But the women was just such great tennis. To have a final with Sharapova and Clijsters and match points saved - and, you know, we dodged the rain a little bit - but it was just so exciting.
Then with the men starting really that same day with the new format we have, and tremendous matches. Last two nights here at the Center Court has just had wonderful energy. Kind of reminds us all of why we're doing this and why tennis is such a popular sport worldwide.
They're such good athletes, and they come from all over. How many sports have a player from Cyprus playing somebody from Spain, and then you've got an American playing someone from Serbia. Just a neat, neat experience.
From a crowd perspective, our numbers are up over last year. That's always good to see. They're about 4% up over this time last year. And I think as far as fan experience, we've just got rave reviews from what's going on in the building. The building that we're in here, the players have really, really talked about how much they've enjoyed it, from the locker room to the workout facility to the player dining. It's really made their stay a lot more enjoyable.
And even though the fans haven't benefited from that, they know what whatever we do for the players ultimately helps the fans. So we're excited about that. And then part of the press conference today is to announce what we're gonna do that affects more of the fans.
What I would like to do is introduce a USTA board member who's joining us from Minnesota, Steve Champlin.
STEVE CHAMPLIN: Thank you, Bruce. Afternoon everybody. I'm here on behalf of Lucy Garvin, the chairman of the board and president of the USTA, and also on behalf of the USTA a board of directors, its staff, volunteers, and thousands of members.
I have been very fortunate to serve as the USTA board liaison to this tournament. I've learned what a great event this is, what a wonderful tennis community we have here, and also what a great sponsor we have in Western & Southern that supports this event.
Today, we have a very, very special announcement to make. I'd like to introduce my colleague and close friend, Jim Curley. Jim, as Bruce indicated, is the chief professional of the USTA professional office, tournament office, and also the tournament director for the US Open to make the announcement.
JIM CURLEY: Thanks, Steve. Good afternoon everyone. It's an honor to be here on this very special occasion. For anyone who loves tennis, Cincinnati is the place to be at this time of year. It's become one of the favorite stops on both the men's and the women's professional tours, and it just seems to get stronger every year.
All of us at the USTA are thrilled to be partners with this event, and even more delighted to be associated with the man whose vision and determination have made this one of the most remarkable successes on the tour that it is, the one and only Paul Flory. (Applause).
For more than 30 years, Paul has been dedicated to making this tournament one of the best in the world. We all know that this tournament is Paul's legacy. Let me assure everyone here that the USTA is honored to carry forward that legacy.
Last year we gathered to talk about the changes that were coming to this facility. As you can see, in just one year those changes have indeed come. Together, the USTA, Cincinnati Tennis, LLC, and Tennis For Charity invested $10 Million in the construction of this new player and media center. It's one of the most spectacular buildings that you will find at any tennis event anywhere in the world. It's only fitting that this structure should be named for the man who has for years taken the lead in setting those same high standards.
And since this is a players' building, it is especially fitting that it would bear the name of the man who was widely recognized as one of the ultimate players' tournament directors.
On a personal note, I have had the privilege of knowing Paul for many years. And despite the fact that he attended Yale University, consider him to be a good friend. (Laughter.) Paul is one of the most respected and admired individuals in our sport, and Cincinnati should be proud to call him one of its own.
So without further ado, it's my great pleasure to announce that this magnificent new building will from this day forward be known as the Paul Flory Player Center. (Applause). Congratulations, Paul.
Thank you. I'll turn it over to Stacey now.
STACEY ALLASTER: Thank you, Jim. Well, I was leaving office yesterday, and someone said to me, Good luck in Montreal. I said, Oh, I'm not going to Montreal for our women's event, I'm going to Cincinnati. They looked at me, Why are you going to Cincinnati?
Well, I can tell you there's only one reason and one person that I would come to Cincinnati on this special weekend for, and that's for tennis' best friend, Paul Flory.
For those of you who were here last year, you may recall I told you the story about how Paul stalked me - I mean lobbied me - for well over a decade that Cincinnati could be part of the women's club.
Last week Paul, in Montreal, all of talk amongst the players was how great the Paul Flory Player Center was. It would have been music to your ears. Everything you dreamed about, they were walking about.
So, my friend, thank you for inviting us to your club. I don't know what took us so long. (Laughter.) And not only in two short years are you part of the premier women's group, you are a very bright star. Thank you on the behalf of all the players for everything you've done, not only for women's tennis, but for men's tennis.
I'll pass it over to my friend Adam Helfant.
ADAM HELFANT: Thanks, Stacey. Our game is in a very positive place right now. The depth and diversity of talent on tour is at an all-time high, and we have great champions. We have more fans than ever before. We set an attendance record last year, and it's nice to hear from Bruce that we'll be up here, we're expecting to at least equal and probably surpass that record this year as well.
And we have strong corporate support despite the very difficult economic situation. Now this tournament is one of our very top tournaments, and obviously has a great, long, rich tradition in Cincinnati dating back 111 years. We all know it wouldn't be what it is today without the vision of Paul Flory over the last 35 years, and his relentless focus on delivering the very best tennis players in the world to Cincinnati.
Paul's commitment to our players has been a constant throughout the years. In fact, in the '80s, when this was known as the ATP Championship, this tournament actually funded the very first ATP pension plan. It was known in our circles as the Cincinnati plan. So Paul is very much responsible for the pension plan that we have in place today that covers around 700 current and former players.
His and the tournament's commitment to and investment in our game has been on display all week for the past two weeks, and no more so than when you look around and you see this terrific facility. It's a very exciting time for the tournament, and we think it's just the beginning of yet another chapter in the rich and storied history of this tournament. (Applause).
BRUCE FLORY: You know, as I mentioned, a lot goes into a successful tournament. It goes from the facilities to the staff to the volunteers. But nothing is more important these days, as Adam referred to financially, as having a great title sponsor.
We are so blessed to have a title sponsor that not only provides the resources financially, but also the manpower and the spirit and someone who just truly loves Cincinnati. Whatever is good for Cincinnati, he's right behind. It gives us such confidence really to do the thing that we're doing.
So before we talk about our future plans, I would love to recognize John and have him say a few words. (Applause.)
JOHN BARRETT: Thank you, Bruce. Cincinnati has had this tournament for 111 years. I think this is the best year ever, and it's gonna be even better next year. We've been fortunate to be the title sponsor for the last nine years, and Cincinnati is a corporate headquarters mecca. All the guys are out here and all the associates of all the companies are out here supporting this tournament.
It makes this city one of the best cities to live in in the world. Paul, we thank you for taking the tournament to the next level, to the next level, to the next level all these year. Next year will be even better. I can't wait. Thank you. (Applause).
BRUCE FLORY: Thank you, John. 2011, as we walked around this year, obviously we got a lot of questions. Is next year the year we're going to the combined event? What's the format? So as much as we talk about it -- because it's been a transitional stage and we went from a Tier III women's event to two years of having a Premier WTA event, and it was kind of a transition having two years of back-to-back.
But the plan obviously this year for 2011 is set to be run concurrently. What does that involve? Well, it involves a lot more logistics from a tournament point of view, but the biggest thing is from the fan's point of view.
When they plan on coming to Cincinnati or plan on coming from a half hour away, they come on any day, they know they're gonna see the very best men and the very best women praying at the same time.
Obviously the Premier events around the world are combined events, whether it's Wimbledon, US Open, Roland Garros, or the Australian Open. That's the way the game of tennis is going. You see it with Miami, what they're doing with the Sony Ericsson tournament, what they have done at the PNP Paribas in Indian Wells; what Ion Tiriac is doing in Madrid.
So really these premier cities are doing these events, and that's what we're gonna be doing. Obviously where we're sitting today is step one in getting there. We knew that to have the men and women together we needed separate locker rooms, we needed much bigger locker rooms for the players, we needed bigger locker rooms for the male coaches, the female coaches.
When you have 200 players coming into your facility over a three-day period, you just need a much bigger site. So obviously this building is meant to accomplish that, and we've done that over stage one. We knew that we couldn't do it over one year. To get this one done and new courts would be quite a task.
We've got a great architecture partner in Browning Day, and Greg Jacoby and Mike Walker are here to join us. They're in the back. As we get done with this, if anybody has any questions on how was it designed, how it was built, whatever, there are people in this room who can answer a lot of those questions.
But Brian Day has been instrumental in building this facility really from nearly the very beginning. And then we've got a great construction partner in Vector Construction who has put about every brick in this building as well.
So we really have a lot of continuity in getting this program done. But when we have under a seven- and eight-day event where we have 56 men and 56 women playing at the same time, obviously it's gonna make a big court issue. We knew we couldn't do it with ten courts, so we needed to expand.
That's why we've got a plan expansion, and you can see the pictures behind us to add six more courts. So we'll have a total of 16 courts, two more match courts with lights. So heaven forbid if we ever get rain later next year during this week, we'll be prepared for that to run later.
Now people have had the challenges the last few days of which match do they want to watch. We know we have wonderful matches on Center Court, but we also have had tremendous matches on Grandstand Court, or you see Rafa Nadal on Court 3 practicing with the place packed.
So next year these players are gonna be really spread out further and further. And most these top players are used to playing on a major court. Whether it's as Grand Slam event or smaller event, they're used to being on a showcase court.
So we want to make that if there's a player who is ranked in the top 10, if he's not Center Court or Grandstand Court, he's on a court that can accommodate him. That's why our current courts are not changing at this point. But our new Court 3, our third-best match, will be a much bigger court. It'll handle 4,000 seats; it'll be able to handle the TV production so overseas broadcasting can see 'em; we're gonna have a fourth court that handles about 2,500 seats. So our No. 1 and 2 courts will not be changing next year, but Courts 3 and 4 will be different.
And then the current courts, like 3 and 4, rather than what they have now handling the third- and fourth-best match, they'll now have the fifth- and sixth-best match. So nothing is changing on the current infrastructure, we're just basically expanding out.
This is a multi-year project. Year one is the project we're in now; year two is gonna be adding these six courts and really changing the main entrance of the site. You'll see on here where we're changing the ticket office. Where the ticket office is now on the northwest portion of the site, it was right the location at the time when we used to park a lot of cars where they have the driving range.
But since then there's been development and there's new homes being built there, and most of the parking is on the northeast side. So it only makes sense to move the ticket office to the northeast side. And we have a lot more demands for ticketing. Obviously this is an event that we're drawing 10,000 people per session to the event. We anticipate having a combined event getting close to 15,000, at some point 20,000 per session. So obviously we're gonna need a bigger ticket office.
We also need a lot bigger grounds in total. If you have a food court, if you have vendors, if you have 10,000 people on-site or you have 15,000 people on-site, you just need bigger areas to accommodate them. So the new plan will have bigger areas for the food court, for exhibitors, the retail, just a lot more room for people to move around. We're gonna have more restrooms, more family, you know, handicap-accessible restrooms. Just a whole site upgrade.
Last year was really for the players and the media. This next year is really the fans coming on site, they'll almost get a bigger -- feel a bigger change coming up next year than they even will for this year. This year is the visual when you drive up and you see the facility.
But unless people have seats on the upper level here shaded, the fans really didn't get a personal touch much with this new building. Next year everybody will be affected, because the whole flow of the site is gonna change. We have pictures up there. Just quickly, the master plan to Adam's left shows you where on the bottom left is the northeast corner where you have the four courts in a row, and then you've got the two courts further to the south that have more of the stands.
And those stands, unlike Court 3 that's built down, these are built up, and we're gonna have restrooms built in behind them. So you'll have a lot more restrooms, a lot more ancillary things for fans and sponsors.
And then we have just a close-up off Court 3. A lot of it is set for TV, because we're broadcasting to over 150 countries, and so much of what we do is for the international audience. When people sometimes talk about scheduling, why did you put this player on what court, some of it has to do with the local crowd.
A lot of it, quite frankly, has to do with, you know, if there's a Spanish player or a Polish player and they want to get a good time for that player to be on there, we want to make sure we have a good court to accommodate them.
And then right behind me is an open area that we're gonna have. For those that have been to the US Open, it's like the mini-US Openesque where you have a kind of an open staging area where if you have sponsors who wanted to display interactive things, we have a little bit more open area to put things.
And then Champions Court where, again, more exhibitors, more greenery, places for people to hang out. And then on the far right, on your left, is gonna be the ticket office, which is much bigger. And it'll keep the artistic, you know, the curved walls. We've gotten a lot of compliments on the building here, that it's not just a rectangle or a square building. It's curved and it's aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
So we're very proud of it. Again, I can't thank John enough for really the commitment that Western & Southern has done. And really the people in Cincinnati -- and really the Dayton companies have really stepped up and said, Hey, we like this tournament. We know what it does for the city. We're sp proud to host an event that has these athletes from -- the very best women, men, from all over the world play in Cincinnati.
So that's our program. We will be around, all of us will be around for a few minutes if anybody has any questions, comments, suggestions, sponsorship ideas. (Laughing.) We're all ears.
We appreciate you taking the time to come out. We hope for a sunny day and couple of awesome matches today. Thanks for coming out, and we'll see you soon. (Applause.)
CHRIS WIDMAIER: We'd like to turn the floor over to our very special guest, Paul Flory, who would like to say a few words.
PAUL FLORY: Needless to say, I'm overwhelmed by what was said here today. When I looked around and I saw certain people come, I thought, Well, why are they here? (Laughter.) So there must be something a little bit different. Well, there's something that's really different.
To see all these those people up here, you know, this tournament wouldn't be a tournament without that gentlemen right there (pointing to Mr. Curley), and it wouldn't be this tournament without the people from the ATP.
I mean, I just can't say enough about them and all the people in this room. Whatever I accept, I accept on behalf of the 1,200 volunteers that helped me out, and that's been a wonderful thing to have happen.
I'm thrilled to be here. They said too much about me, but I did do my very best. (Laughter.) It's always been what about the future? What can we do to make this tournament better? It was not, How can we take in more money or do this or do that, but, How can we make it better?
Because, you know, there's many wonderful cities that don't have a tournament like this, like Minneapolis, Chicago, Boston, and so on. And here we are in little ole Cincinnati, and we have this wonderful tournament. We have this wonderful tournament because people have dedicated themselves to make it the best it can be.
All the things that have been said about me you can take with a grain of salt. But I do want you to know that I accept it on behalf of the 1,200 people who have been part of what this has been all about. It's been very exciting. I can't tell you how much it has meant to me and my family and friends and so on.
But it has really been a wonderful thing to have happen. Gosh, our ticket people are here, and they should be down there. (Applause.) Yeah, that's the problem.
And incidentally, I want to correct something that Mr. Curley said. He didn't tell you he went to Harvard. (Laughing.) I've apologized for him for going there as much as I could, but he just keeps saying it without saying it.
And I see Bobby Kramer. What's he doing here? When I started, I got this call from a Mr. Kramer. Not the Mr. Kramer who's the best tennis player in the world, right? The best in the world.
And he said, Paul, we would like to talk about Cincinnati and how we can do it better. My God, he wants to make Cincinnati a better tournament. Well, that's the kind of person he was. And what he did to make tennis bigger and better in the United States has been miraculous and wonderful.
I see Mark Young back there. But it's made up of people, people who cared to make tennis a bigger sport and more popular in the United States and around the world. To have been part of that was great for me and my family and so on. But I thank everybody that's been involved, even my son Bruce. (Laughter.) Well, anyway, and he was a pretty good tennis player. He always cleaned my clock. And you know to do that was not easy. (Laughter.)
But that's all I really to have say. Thanks for coming. I hope I didn't take you are away from some important task I'm sure you had to be here.
JIM CURLEY: Mr. Flory, on behalf of the friends of Harvard Tennis, I have a very special presentation to make.
PAUL FLORY: Uh-oh.
JIM CURLEY: Please wear this in good health, okay? (Applause.)
PAUL FLORY: How could he say veritas? That means truth. I don't understand this. (Laughter.) (Applause.)
End of FastScripts