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Tennis officials confirm sale of tournament

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Officials with the Indianapolis Tennis Championships on Monday morning confirmed that they are selling the rights to host an annual men's professional tennis event that has roots in Indianapolis dating back to 1920.

ITC Director Kevin Martin said he has “explored every conceivable scenario” to keep the ATP Tour event, which is now held at the Indianapolis Tennis Center on the IUPUI campus.

ITC officials put out a press release this morning in response to an article about the event's move in this week’s Indianapolis Business Journal.

The event lost its title sponsor, RCA, following the 2006 tournament and subsequently lost its television deal with NBC. Attendance declined from near 100,000 in its heyday 15 to 20 years ago to just more than 41,000 in 2009.

U.S. Tennis Association officials told IBJ that the USTA’s Southern Section had bought the sanction for the tournament and planned to move the week-long event to the Atlanta Athletic Club in 2010, but Martin said no deal has been finalized.

“We are still in discussions with several different groups,” Martin said.

A Georgia-based marketing firm, The Forward Agency, last week began advertising sponsorships for the tournament in Atlanta.

“I don’t know where they got their information,” Martin said.

Those Internet ads have since been pulled.

Officials with the USTA’s Midwest Section in Indianapolis said they looked into buying the rights for the event, but decided they couldn’t afford to take an equity stake.

Martin declined to say how many groups ITC officials are negotiating with nor would he name the groups. He conceded that the event is in all likelihood heading out of Indianapolis.

The ATP has final approval over the sale of the tournament’s sanction.
 

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