Grand Gesture: ATP Seeks $50M From Grand Slam Profit ChestPublished June 9, 2003
|ATP Wants $50M To Promote
Tour & Pay Players
The ATP "has asked that some $50[M] in profits from the four lucrative Grand Slam events be used to fund increased prize money and pension plans, and to promote the tour and its players," according to Lauren Peterson of the L.A. TIMES, who noted that the idea was met "less than enthusiastically by the Grand Slam tournaments." Grand Slam officials in a statement said that each of their events had "re-confirmed its individual right to continue determining levels of player compensation and unanimously" rejected the proposal. An ATP spokesperson declined to comment, saying only the ATP is "not going to negotiate in the press." Meanwhile, the breakaway IMTA, which claims to have 62 players, had its own meeting with Grand Slam execs on Wednesday. IMTA Administrative Dir Henri-James Tieleman said that he was "pleasantly surprised" at "how well his group was received." ATP officials noted that none of the players "has given up membership in the ATP." An ATP statement read, "We question what, if any, real commitment many players on the list have made to IMTA. ... [ATP] will not be deterred in pursuing our goal of achieving a fair investment in our sport from the Grand Slams." IMTA member Mike Bryan said, "I think this should have been done a long time ago. We just want to put pressure on them" (L.A. TIMES, 6/8). TENNIS WEEK called the ATP's $50M request a "startling show of bravura" (TENNIS WEEK, 6/8).
SPLITTER: ATP Player Council President Todd Martin told the SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Liz Mullen that the IMTA "could potentially hurt the ATP's ability to get sponsors and erode its fan base." Martin: "Why would a sponsor want to support a sport in which there are a bunch of players who want to break off? If they signed a five-year deal, they wouldn't be 100[%] confident [the ATP] would be the same thing they agreed to in the first place." IMTA spokesperson Dan Wasserman countered, "The notion that the effective representation of athletes would lead to the Armageddon of the sport is alarmist and nonsense. The fact that the emergence of strong players associations has also coincided with enormous spurts in the growth and popularity of those sports should put that rumor to rest" (SBJ, 6/9 issue).
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