Indianapolis to Sell ATP tournament

November 30, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS — The board of directors of the Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Inc. has decided to sell the tournament’s ATP sanction. The tournament is working closely with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour to evaluate potential buyers and facilitate a transaction by the end of December.

The decision to sell the tournament sanction comes after months of discussions with multiple tournament partners and prospective sponsors regarding options to sustain the event in Indianapolis. “I can confidently say that we explored every conceivable scenario to retain the tournament in Indianapolis. However, the serious challenges presented by recent economic trends have caused the board to make the prudent decision to sell the event” said Tournament Director, Kevin Martin.

Martin added that the tournament is bound by confidentiality agreements that prohibit public disclosure of potential buyers at this time. Until the final buyer has been identified or there is new information to share, he said no further comment will be made on the progress of negotiations. However it is expected a final decision regarding the sale will be made within two to three weeks.

“As the board evaluates options to sell the event, it will balance the priority to support American tennis while selecting a bid that will insure our organization will have the financial strength to pay all of its liabilities,” Martin said.

The Indianapolis Tennis Championships is a member of the Olympus US Open Series and is held annually in July.

Indianapolis has enjoyed a professional tennis event for more than 80 years when it began in 1921 as the Western Open Championships at the Woodstock Country Club. The tournament home was moved in 1974 to the Indianapolis Racquet Club (IRC) where 8 newly constructed outdoor clay courts helped Indianapolis continue its tradition of showcasing tennis’ brightest stars. The honor roll of past clay court competitors names tennis’ most notable stars: Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, Arthur Ashe, Ivan Lendl, Andres Gomez, and Jose-Louis Clerc, among many others.

“The sale of the Indianapolis Tennis Championships brings an end to a historical time for professional tennis in the Midwest,” Martin said. “We have celebrated many milestones over the years and have a lot to be proud of for what we contributed to the sport of tennis and to the professional sports landscape in Indianapolis. None of this would have been possible without our dedicated staff and the hundreds of volunteers we depended on every year. Equally as important were our loyal tennis fans, who we think are the best in the nation and who showed the world Indianapolis was a great town to host the world’s most famous tennis stars.

“Finally, we cannot thank enough the hundreds of sponsors and partners who have supported the tournament and its charity benefactors over the years,” Martin added. “Without their loyalty and dedication to our mission, the millions of lives we have touched over the years would not have been possible. We are grateful for the many businesses and organizations who have partnered with us over the tournament’s long history.”

The Indianapolis Sports Center — now known as the Indianapolis Tennis Center and current site of the Indianapolis Tennis Championships — was constructed in 1979. The 13-acre clay court tennis complex was considered state-of-the-art and one of the finest 9,000-seat stadiums on the tennis circuit. The Indianapolis Sports Center hosted the U.S. Open Clay Court Championships until 1987 when it became a self-supporting, year-round tennis facility and 14 of the 18 clay courts were resurfaced with Deco-Turf II, the same surface used at the U.S. Open. The event became known as the U.S. Men’s Hardcourt Championships and gained the attention of the world’s best players as a premier warm-up stop on the road to the U.S. Open. Stars like Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Goran Ivanisevic, Carlos Moya, Patrick Rafter, Gustavo Kuerten and Andy Roddick came to Indianapolis over the years to tune up their game before the U.S. Open.

Thomson Consumer Electronics became the tournament’s title sponsor through its RCA brand in 1992, a title held until 2006. RCA holds the distinguished honor of being the longest running title sponsor of a men’s professional tennis tournament in North America. With the end of the RCA sponsorship, the tournament changed its name to the Indianapolis Tennis Championships. Eli Lilly and Co. was the tournament’s presenting sponsor for the past two years, using the tournament partnership as a platform for its focus on helping the Indianapolis community live longer, healthier lives.

“So many people have touched this event through history,” Martin said. “It is never easy to see a long-standing annual event come to a close, and we join many others from across the country and across the world that are saddened by seeing this tournament’s reign come to a close in Indianapolis. I hope those that supported us will look to other events in our community and redirect their support to them.”