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USTA Halves Revenue, 2021 AO Weighs Up Bubble Numbers

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fter all the champagne and the ticker-tape for Thiem and Osaka has blown away, according to United States Tennis Association (USTA) CEO, Michael Dowse, about 50% of the U.S Open’s revenue comes from ticket sales and concessions.

Net operating income is also expected to fall by 80%, after closing their doors to the public, the U.S. Open will experience a revenue drop of at least $150 million, half their usual revenue and viewership for the women’s final experienced a drop of 42% since the previous year whilst the men’s championship match, the first Grand Slam final since 2016, was down 46%.

So what happens now?

As a result, the USTA has been forced to downsize staff by 25% and implement pay cuts.

The company have also frozen a majority of their non-critical spending.

While concerns have been raised as to whether or not Tennis Australia will join the USTA and other sporting associations in the fight to keep afloat in the wake of the pandemic; Melbourne’s Grand Slam contributed up to $387.7 million to the Victorian economy.

With news that the AO still has a green light, the attendees will be smaller in size, with news breaking that the tournament is pushing for the 28,000 hold limit.

Rumoured private walkways from hotel to the precinct to allow full COVID-19 control could allow brands and sponsors to be tight-lipped until December to hatch a plan for fan engagement, if any.

With a more than a 12% increase since the previous year in 2019, the Grand Slam attracted the biggest global broadcast audience in the history of the tournament, it generated over 99,556 broadcast coverage hours and 813.8 million broadcast hours of global viewership for the 2020 Australian Open.

In the past 10 years, the Australian Open has offered over $2.71 billion worth of economic benefits to Victoria, generating 1775 jobs for the state.

Australian Open tournament director and Tennis Australia CEO, Craig Tiley, said: “we are proud of the significant contribution the Australian Open makes to our economy and the promotion opportunities it provides to Melbourne and Victoria.”

54% of the 812,174 people that attended were from interstate, 13% were from overseas.

Spending an average of $209 each day, visitors used 574,970 hotel bed nights and 87% said they would be inclined to recommend others visit Victoria as a result of their stay.

In previous years Australian Open drank 160,000 coffees and 15,000 glasses of champagne.

More than 145,000 ice-creams, 15,000 souvlakis and 28,000 pizzas were served.

Apologies for the pun but “Food for thought” right?

Prize money, however, will remain, with a record $71million to be won in the 2020 Australian Open; a 14% increase since the previous year, the Australian Open will hopefully remain an attractive prospect for overseas players.

Singles champion will receive AU$4.12 million in prize money.

Runner up AU$2.065 million, semi-final AU$1.04million, and quarter-final AU$525,000; and players that made the main draw earned up to AU$90,000 for competing in the first round.

Marketing the big names Nadal, Serena, Djokovic will be automatic behaviour for the promoters, and the GOAT Swang song we hear every year “The Last of Federer”.

“Retirement is getting closer, and I will miss tennis so much,” tennis champion Roger Federer told Zeit newspaper.

International borders in a second wave could be tricky with new news of increasing COVID-19 cases with a Northern hemisphere winter looming, with predictions the UK and Europe could be in the firing line once again with 4300 cases reported on one day alone.

In spite of the continued profitability of tennis Australia, concerns are growing as to whether or not Victorian lockdown laws will be lifted in time for fans to see their favourite players in person during the 2021 Australian Open.

We wish well for broadcasters, sponsors and staff and attendees to be inside the bubble safely, but financially can we expect the USTA Open “rebound effect”.

That will not be an “ace” result.