Coco Gauff was the large identify – and the winner – at this 12 months’s ASB Traditional. Photograph / Photosport
The ASB Traditional girls’s tennis event in Auckland is heading for its largest transformation in many years.
In a transfer that may change the face of the occasion, discussions are underway to revamp it
A event as much as the WTA 500 stage, the subsequent rung on the ladder.
The change in standing would require a major funding because the award will triple – to round NZ$1.3 million – a major improve in out there score factors.
Maybe most significantly, it could permit Auckland to draw stronger deposits.
WTA 250 occasions are restricted to 1 top-10 participant – Coco Gauff was the marquee girl in 2023 – however there isn’t any restrict on the subsequent stage.
The Auckland event has been on the WTA 250 stage since its inception within the mid-Eighties. There are historically as much as 32 tournaments at this stage, with solely 12 occasions on the greater stage, together with Brisbane and Sydney up to now and Adelaide in 2023. This 12 months, 24 WTA 250 and 10 WTA 500 stage occasions have dropped. Suspension of tournaments in China.
The Weekend Herald understands Auckland officers are already in talks with the WTA over the transfer.
Event director Nicolas Lamperin confirmed it was on the agenda and achievable.
“The potential is there to make it occur,” Lamperin advised the Weekend Herald. “This requires a major improve in prize cash. I can sense a number of curiosity within the event, whether or not it is from present sponsors or new sponsors, in addition to personal traders. So that is an possibility. Now we simply must work on concrete particulars.”
Lamperin admitted that the potential to draw extra big-name gamers was an enormous attraction. He had 4 top-10 names that him this 12 months, however was in a position to signal just one (Gauff).
Whereas Oakland has achieved job of recruiting top-tier gamers from outdoors the highest echelon, reminiscent of 2021 US Open finalists Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez, that will not all the time be the case.
“The 250 class may be very restrictive,” Lamperin mentioned. “So we’re wanting carefully at 500 as a result of there might be no restrict. “We are able to purchase as many high 10 or 20 high gamers as we wish.”
This was proven with the Adelaide WTA 500 occasion this 12 months in the identical week. The South Australian occasion attracted 4 of the highest 10, 9 of the highest 20 and 16 of the highest 30. After Gauff, Oakland had Karolina Muchova (protected score of twenty-two), Sloane Stephens (37) and Fernandez (40).
Historically, the Auckland girls’s occasion has paid look charges to 4 gamers in any given 12 months, though a large leap in prize cash is altering that steadiness.
Lamperin was cautious concerning the potential timing, however it’s understood it might be an possibility within the quick time period.
“I actually cannot touch upon the time-frame,” Lamperin mentioned. “It actually is determined by the tour and when that door opens, which is not all the time the case. [But] There could also be a window quickly, so we’re wanting on the state of affairs.”
The Weekend Herald understands that point might be tight for a change in 2024 or 2025, however that’s out of the query.
The primary problem might be funds. The overall prize cash this 12 months was US$259,303 (NZ$404,000), with Gauff taking dwelling US$34,228 (NZ$53,000). The monetary dedication in Adelaide was US$826,837 (NZ$1.29 million) and the winner received US$120,150 (NZ$187,000). There may be additionally an improve payment charged by the WTA.
“It is one thing we’re clearly taking a look at,” Lamperin mentioned. “However now we have to verify it really works inside our mannequin primarily based on the variety of followers we are able to have, the income we are able to get from company gross sales, the extent of sponsorship we are able to appeal to within the nation. So there are a number of parameters that we have to consider over the subsequent few weeks.”
Naming rights sponsor ASB renewed their contract for an additional three years in June final 12 months. Tennis Auckland has historically hosted the occasion, though Tennis New Zealand, which holds the WTA event licence, performed a much bigger position this 12 months. Most of the world’s largest tournaments are backed by personal funding, and Lamperin did not rule out the potential for traders taking a stake.
“We might have achieved it with out the traders,” Lamperin mentioned. “However now we have to stretch issues out with little or no margin for error.”
Lamperin mentioned it is “too early to inform” what a potential mannequin will seem like if traders come on board.
That is an thrilling risk, however any change to the extent isn’t with out threat. This might require a serious rebuild of the world and put strain on ticket costs in a aggressive market.
It would additionally change the appear and feel of the occasion, which is engaging to many year-round gamers in search of a low-key construction to begin the 12 months. On condition that revenue is vital for crowdfunding, this may erode the monetary margins supplied by the occasion.
Stephens, the 2016 Oakland champion, had combined emotions concerning the prospect.
“There are completely different the explanation why tournaments keep at completely different ranges,” Stephens mentioned. “The rationale this event is nice is as a result of it is a smaller event, however they get the most effective gamers, which makes it actually cool. It is an incredible 250 with the most effective gamers, the most effective mark and an important nation that loves tennis. In order that [there are] the explanation why you’d and why you would not.
Factors and prize cash
2023 Auckland WTA 250
First spherical: 1 level, $2,804.
Spherical 16: 30 factors, $3,922.
Quarterfinals: 60 factors, $6,418.
Semifinals: 110 factors, $11,275.
Closing: 180 factors, $20,226.
Champion: 280 factors, $34,228.
2023 Adelaide WTA 500
First spherical: 1 level, $7,500.
Spherical 16: 55 factors, $11,145.
Quarterfinals: 100 factors, $20,465.
Semifinals: 185 factors, $43,323.
Closing: 305 factors, $74,161.
Champion: 470 factors, $120,150.