Hong Kong Tennis Association seeks HK$1m from next BNP Paribas Showdown
Unhappy Hong Kong Tennis Association officials have asked the organisers of last month's BNP Paribas Showdown for a million-dollar sanction fee if next year's event is to go ahead.
China's Li Na has been lined up to play against Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, while Argentine Juan Martin del Potro will take on Australian Lleyton Hewitt in the men's event, but their appearance is under a cloud after the governing body insisted the overseas organisers, Star Games, pay a fee instead of just parachuting in and spiriting away the profits.
"If they are going to march in and ask us to help them and co-ordinate everything as we did this year, and in return only give us HK$11,000 which was a percentage of gate receipts, there is no way we can justify helping them out again," said Herbert Chow Siu-lung, HKTA executive council member and chairman of player development committee.
"We have asked for a sanction fee of between HK$1 million and HK$1.5 million which will help Hong Kong professional tennis. If they are happy to donate that, then we can strike some sort of a working relationship."
Last month's event featured Caroline Wozniacki against Agnieszka Radwanska, and John McEnroe against Ivan Lendl. It drew 4,869 fans.
The HKTA will hold all the aces next year because the venue for last month's event, AsiaWorld-Expo, is unavailable on March 2-3. The dates coincide with the International Tennis Federation's World Tennis Day.
The alternative venue looked at by organisers, the Hong Kong Coliseum, has also been booked, leaving Victoria Park centre court as the only viable option. But the HKTA has the run of Victoria Park at the time with the National Junior Championships being held then.
It is willing to allow Star Games to make use of the centre court if the local game benefits.
"We are working with the HKTA on a number of things which are intended to support and enhance tennis in Hong Kong. Included in this is the site for the 2014 BNP Paribas Showdown," said Jerry Solomon, chief executive of StarGames.
"We are also working on the expansion of World Tennis Day after a successful first year which saw over 50 ITF member nations participate. As a result, there are a lot of pieces to organise, all of which will be announced later this year.
"We do, however, plan that once again World Tennis Day will kick off in Hong Kong with world-class tennis coming back for the second year."