(March 20, 2013) With the USTA’s announcement of a deal approved by both the ATP and the WTA, which includes an increase in prize money, USTA Chairman, CEO and President Dave Haggerty, USTA Executive Director and COO Gordon Smith, and US Open Tournament Director David Brewer took questions from the media in a Wednesday afternoon conference call.
In addition to the increases in prize money, 2015 will see the Women’s semifinals on Thursday, the Men’s on Friday, with a Saturday Women’s final and the men’s final on Sunday. Also the men’s first rounds will be played over two days instead of three.
“I think that certainly with the physicality of the game, the players, on the men’s side especially, with the long five-set match, perhaps in the semifinals, they need a day of rest, and we have had a day of rest these last couple of years. We had told the playerslast year that we would do that, ” said Haggerty.
“The only way that we can do it now and for the next two years is to have it on Monday, and I think they appreciate the day of rest in between, and I think that in 2015 they look forward to a Sunday final on the men’s side and a Friday semifinals.
“Well, I think that we know that this announcement is going to cost the USTA more money, and I think that we certainly know that it’s going to affect some of what we do, some of our programs, so from an expense perspective, we’ll take a look and be diligent at what we do there, ” said Haggerty in terms of the USTA’s financial health. “We’ll also look at revenues and see if there are ways to improve what we’re doing.”
“What we will not do is we will not drastically increase the ticket prices for our fans and spectators to pay for it. Certainly inflationary increases over years may be what you see, but we’re not going to put it to the fans.”
Chiming in to talk about the USTA’s financial stability was USTA Executive Director and COO Gordon Smith: “If I could add to that, it was important for us to get some long-term stability in this important area because we’ve got some big things to do. We’ve got to really get more kids on the courts playing tennis, and we’ve got a big job ahead of us in transforming the tennis center into the type of facility that we wanted it to be. So that was a major impetus for making this move.
“Well, pretty clearly, we have been increasing prize money for some years,but we have done it on a year-to-year basis. This discussion with the players that’s gone on now forover a year really allowed us as partners to create a predictable future for both them and us. Now we can go about our financial planning for the other significant items that we have to do.”
Smith said that there were “spirited” discussions with the players but not threatening.
“Clearly we discussed with the players the role that we have in promoting tennis through the Open, around the world, and certainly in promoting it in the United States and creating interest through recreational play and tournaments and leagues, and they clearly recognize that that’s something that is appropriate for us to do and recognize that that’s where a fair amount of our resources need to go,” Smith elaborated.
“And those were the discussions that we had back and forth.”
“So I think it was certainly a number of factors that went into mind. We understand the importance of the players, what they bring to the US Open, the importance of the players, the importance of the lower ranked players being able to make a good living, also the stability of the US Open and a nice long-term arrangement.”
Haggerty made a point of saying that each Grand Slam makes its own decisions in regard to prize money and they do not consult each other, no agreements are made between the majors.
To read more about the specifics of the USTA’s announcement: USTA Strikes Deal with ATP and WTA for US Open