The Western & Southern Open today announced a landmark agreement with Western & Southern Financial Group to keep the Cincinnati-based company as title sponsor of the city's prestigious professional tennis tournament through 2017.
The parties did not disclose the specific terms of the three-year, multimillion-dollar deal. The agreement ensures that the relationship remains the longest title sponsorship run among the nine worldwide prestigious ATP Masters 1000 events, a tenure which will reach 16 years in 2017.
The event reported a record attendance of 191,752 in 2014, nearly half of which were tourists to the city. Fans attend the event from all 50 states and more than 30 countries.
The most recent economic impact study, concluded in 2012 by the University of Cincinnati, set the annual regional economic impact of the event at $62.5 million. The most recent MLB All Star Game prior to Cincinnati, which was played last year in Minneapolis, reported a $70 million impact.
In recent years, the event’s worldwide visibility has grown to unprecedented proportions. Global television rights deliver images of the city and event into 67 million homes across the globe. Domestically, the event is seen for more than 30 hours on linear ESPN network broadcasts and for more than 200 hours streaming on ESPN3.
“The Western & Southern Open is truly a world-class event that brings national and international recognition and incredibly positive economic impact to Cincinnati. We’re proud to continue our title sponsorship and help keep this terrific tournament such a valuable part of our community,” commented John F. Barrett, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Western & Southern Financial Group.
The title sponsor is the backbone of any non-league affiliated major sporting event, such as a tennis or golf tournament. The Western & Southern Open has a player prize money purse of greater than $7 million in 2015. Announcement of the full player field for the 2015 tournament is planned for later today in a made-for-media event at the Mercantile Library in downtown Cincinnati.
As title sponsor, the company receives a number of benefits including tournament naming-rights, court signage and television broadcast elements. In recent years, the company has launched popular fan activation programs such as the Coin Toss where fans win the chance to flip the coin on court before a match, and the Western & Southern Experience, which presents fans with the opportunity to receive an autograph from a star player face to face.
“Western & Southern has supported us through the incredible growth of the last decade and a half,” remarked tournament Chief Executive Officer Elaine Bruening. “It’s the perfect marriage between an iconic Cincinnati company and our event, both with more than 100 years of history in Cincinnati.”
The tournament has donated over $9.5 million to charity since 1974. This includes more than $8 million to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, making the event one of only a handful of entities to reach a giving plateau of $5 million with the hospital. Other beneficiaries include the Barrett Cancer Center and Tennis for City Youth. Retaining a title sponsor ensures that the tournament can continue these philanthropic endeavors, which are also aided by the multitude of more than 1400 annual volunteers who help organize and work the event.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is a majority owner of the Western & Southern Open, which is one of only five events in the world, outside of the Grand Slams, to host a top-tier men’s and women’s event during the same week at the same venue. The other events of this stature are in Indian Wells, Madrid, Miami and Rome. The tournament is played at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio, and is one of the final stops on the Emirates Airline US Open Series.
The event is the nation’s oldest professional tennis tournament still played in its original city. Past champions include legends like John McEnroe, Virginia Wade, Andre Agassi and Margaret Court. More recently, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, and Maria Sharapova have captured titles.
Tickets are on sale now at www.wsopen.com for the 2015 event.