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Report: Tennis Weathering Economic Challenges As Sponsorship Deals Grow

August 23, 2010: With tennis heading toward its fourth and final Grand Slam event of 2010, a report shows that domestic and worldwide sponsorship spending on amateur and professional tennis tournaments, leagues and sanctioning bodies is expected to total $600 million in 2010, a 3.2% increase over 2009.

Anchored by a series of new deals on the global, national and local levels, including a multi-year partnership between the ATP World Tour (the governing body for men's tennis) and Mexican beer Corona Extra and a new alliance in the Asia-Pacific region between the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and Peak Sport Products, the growth in tennis is expected to top a projected 2.8% increase in 2010 sports spending, according to a new study from sponsorship research, consulting and analysis firm IEG, Chicago.

“The sport of tennis has largely replaced the fallout in spending by financial services and automobile companies with new categories, most notably beer and spirits,” William Chipps, senior editor of IEG Sponsorship Report, said in a statement.

The report was released about ten days before the start of the 2010 U.S. Open, which runs Aug. 30-Sept. 12. Among the deals cited in the IEG report were new alliances between the U.S. Tennis Assn., which oversees the Open and the preceding Olympus U.S. Open Series, and Esurance and Moet Hennessy’s Grand Marnier, respectively.

U.S. Open alliances also include Chase, Citizen, IBM, JP Morgan, Mercedes-Benz, Olympus, American Express, Continental Airlines, Heineken, Polo Ralph Lauren, Canon, Tiffany, Westin and Grey Goose.

In 2009, Mercedes-Benz USA signed as the official automobile partner in a four-year, $35 million deal that included on-site activation and advertising during U.S. Open broadcasts. Earlier this month, Citizen Watch and Polo Ralph Lauren renewed their deals for five-years each, which industry analysts estimated at $20 million and $8 million, respectively. A record 721,059 fans attended the 2009 U.S. Open, according to the USTA. That  generated close to $100 million in ticket sales, on-site restaurants, concession stands, souvenirs and other sources.

The U.S. Open is looking to generate similar if not better figures in 2010 despite the fact that several top players already have pulled out of the event due to injuries, including defending men's champion Juan Martin del Potro, world's No. 1 ranked women's player Serena Williams and former No. 1 ranked and U.S. Open winner Justine Henin.

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