FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. –The LA women’s tournament let out its final breath when Flavia Pennetta took down Samantha Stosur in the final in early August and will move to the La Costa resort in San Diego in 2010.
After seven years of poor ticket sales and questionable marketing, the tournament should find a much more receptive audience in San Diego, where a very successful tournament was held for 24 years before its owners, Jane Stratton and Raquel Giscafre, sold it back to the WTA Tour in 2007, which then sold its designation to a tournament in China. Giscafre will return as tournament director.
The tournament was sold by primary owner AEG to Octagon, which runs a number of tournaments, including holding an ownership interest in Cincinnati. The USTA also sold its 25% share to Octagon with the provision that the tournament remain part of the US Open Series for at least the next five years.
AEG couldn’t secure a title sponsor this year and barely marketed the tournament, which was held at the state of the art Home Depot Center in Carson.
Prior to being held in Carson, the tournament was held at the Manhattan Beach Country Club, where it frequently sold out, but few if any of the box seat holders were willing to make the trip southeast to Carson.
The only player who showed an ability to bring in fair number of fans this year was Manhattan Beach resident Maria Sharapova and in the past few years, AEG didn’t start marketing the event until the summer, preferring to spend its dollars and energy promoting the X-Games.
“I think one of the pitfalls that we had was that it was all the way in Carson,” said LA resident Sharapova. “I think for the tennis fans that are in the sort of West Hollywood, Beverly Hills area, didn’t have much enthusiasm to make an hour or hour and a half drive in rush hour.
I’m sure the crowds will be great in San Diego. So I’m looking forward to it.”