Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) will vote on purchasing the rights to the New Haven Open tennis tournament at a meeting scheduled for next Thursday, October 17. By purchasing the rights, CRDA would become the owner of the tournament, which will be held August 15-23, 2014, at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale in New Haven.
"This tournament has created both economic and community development opportunities in the City of New Haven for 16 years," said Governor Malloy. "Economic development for our urban environments, and the state as a whole, is a fundamental component of the state's agenda and we view the New Haven Open as another chapter in bolstering this effort. We know that Connecticut is a great state for women's sports, and this is another fantastic way to ensure that continues to be the case in 2014 and beyond."
Negotiations over the future of the tournament, which were led on behalf of the state by the Governor's Chief of Staff Mark Ojakian and Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes, began in earnest several months ago as another region sought to purchase the rights.
The rights to the women's tournament, known as a "WTA membership," are owned by the United States Tennis Association, which approved the sale on October 6. Without the purchase of the membership, the tournament would likely leave Connecticut.
In addition to the new ownership, the tournament has received firm commitments from all five of its Cornerstone Sponsors: Aetna, American Express, First Niagara, Yale, and Yale-New Haven Hospital.
"We are very glad CRDA could work with the state to save the tournament. The agency was created for and is unique in its ability to act on such opportunities," said CRDA Executive Director Michael Freimuth. "A tennis tournament of this caliber is envied by states and cities across the globe and many places would do whatever it takes to move it out of Connecticut."
The tournament has been in New Haven for 16 years, and is a proven asset to Connecticut and the region. An economic impact study conducted in 2008 found that it generates approximately $26 million in regional economic impact, including almost 300 jobs and $1.1 million in state tax revenue. It has brought more than 1.5 million spectators to the city.
Secretary Barnes said, "The tennis tournament is part of the state's cultural fabric, along with other sporting events, restaurants, theaters, museums and more. If Connecticut is to remain attractive for economic development, it's important to keep and nurture these amenities."
"I'm overjoyed by this new partnership among the state, CRDA, and the New Haven Open at Yale, which generates $26 million in economic impact and markets Connecticut around the world," said Anne Worcester, who will remain the tournament's director. "This is great news for women's professional tennis and for the New Haven community, especially the thousands of youth who benefit from our year-round tennis, education and mentoring programs."
"Each year, the tennis tournament provides an economic boost for many New Haven small businesses," said Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven). "Keeping the tournament in New Haven is important to the local and regional economies. I want to thank Governor Malloy for his leadership in preserving one of Connecticut's premier sporting events."
"The legacy of this tennis tournament is important throughout our entire region each year -- particularly as it plays out just ahead of the U.S. Open in New York City -- so a broad support system, including state-level involvement, is consistent with that and a most welcome development," said State Senator Toni N. Harp (D-New Haven). "State support makes good, sound, economic sense because the return on its investment is international media coverage of a world class sporting event -- showcasing our part of Connecticut and all the associated excitement, crowds, and fanfare."