A major stumbling block in relations between organisers of the BNP Paribas Showdown and the Hong Kong Tennis Association has been cleared after organisers of the exhibition event paid money owed to the local governing body from last year's inaugural tournament.
"We received the money on Friday. The outstanding amount of US$40,000, the service fee from last year's World Tennis Day and Showdown, has been paid and now we can look at talking to them about possible support for this year's event," said Herbert Chow Siu-lung, president of the Hong Kong Tennis Association.
But Chow warned that this time the HKTA would want to be paid up front to provide backing for the March 3 event featuring Li Na, Samantha Stosur, Thomas Berdych and Lleyton Hewitt at the Tseung Kwan O velodrome.
"We will be looking for a reasonable fee to be paid up front so as to avoid the repeat of last year's delinquency," Chow said.
The HKTA provided the officials and ball boys for last year's event at AsiaWorld Expo, which is booked for another event this year. The HKTA booked a local tournament at the court at Victoria Park, which means this year's event will be held at the Hong Kong velodrome.
"We will see the scope first and then give them a service fee to cover the costs," Chow said. "We will have to provide players, administration staff, ball boys and girls, provide transport. They got all this for free last time, and only after we complained about them not having a budget for anything they offered us this US$40,000. The only people they paid last year were the umpire and the linesmen.
"We are asking for a fee as the International Tennis Federation and Star Games are definitely in this as a business together. To us, this is a commercial venture and it is not right for us to use our government subsidised staff to help them make more money."
Jerry Solomon, president of Star Games, said last week that all the money matters were an issue between the ITF and the HKTA.
Tickets range from HK$450 to HK$2,500. A total of 3,000 seats are available at the velodrome.
"We want to show our wholehearted support for sponsor BNP Paribas who support tennis worldwide. They deserve a well run and well supported event in Hong Kong," Chow added.