Q. So in exchange for building the new stadiums, the tournament receives essentially a 50-year lease. What are the increases in revenue to the county through that?
We’re negotiating the deal with the county right now. The goal is it will be enough [money for Miami-Dade] to cover the operational costs so that the county is not subsidizing the event. Right now we feel the county, through parking revenue and the licensing fee, is actually operating the event at close to or breaking even. For most major sporting events, there is a subsidy. Whether it’s in police or the land or a cash contribution. You bring the Super Bowl in, you start out with a host committee [to raise money]. We don’t have a host committee. We’re here.
Q. Did you see the recession at the tournament?
You had to get very creative to sell more sponsor packages for less money. You had to be more conservative when you looked at where your pricing is for your long-term ticket holders, where your pricing is for your new ticket holders. We’ve been very fortunate that tennis has remained strong during the recession.. It was challenging because throughout this time our prize money has consistently gone up..
Q. Did revenues actually dip?
A little bit. I would call it more “flattened.”
Q. What is the most popular concession item there?
The biggest driver of revenue for adults? It’s the Veuve champagne. We do a lot of beer sales, but the champagne is more popular.
Q. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal skipped the Sony this year. A ticket broker recently complained to me that once there were no major stars in the tournament, resale value really dropped off. Does Miami have fair-weather tennis fans, too?
We had over 300,000 ticket holders, and we sold out our last five sessions. But Roger and “Rafa” both transcend tennis and they transcend sport. They are superstars. Like any other superstar, there is going to be interest in them above the level of the sport itself.
Do they bring an extra dimension? Absolutely. Can you have Roger and Rafa not show up and feel it to some extent, yes. I think the effect was tops 5 or 6 percent. What that says is you have a true, hardcore base that want to come out to the tournament. But there was a shock factor at first in terms of: What do you mean they’re not here?