HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The state of Connecticut is planning to spend $618,000 to buy the rights to the New Haven Open women's tennis tournament and keep it from moving to North Carolina.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Thursday that the Capital Region Development Authority will vote on purchasing the sanction for the WTA event from the United States Tennis Association at a meeting on Oct. 17. The authority's board has been actively involved in the negotiations.
"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," Malloy said in a statement. "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."
Ben Barnes, Malloy's budget director, said the USTA had reached an agreement to sell the tournament and move it to Winston Salem, N.C., where the ATP holds a men's event during the same week in August the women play in New Haven.
Barnes said the ATP rejected the plans for a combined men's and women's tournament in North Carolina and Connecticut was given a short window to buy the WTA sanction and keep the event at the Connecticut Tennis Center, which also was built with state funds.
"In this case, we're making a relatively modest investment, given the size of the economic development return that this brings to the community," he said.
An economic impact study conducted in 2008 found that the tournament generated approximately $26 million in regional economic impact, including almost 300 jobs and $1.1 million in state tax revenue.
The tournament also announced that it has received renewals from its top five sponsors, Aetna, American Express, First Niagara, Yale-New Haven Hospital and Yale University.
Tournament director Anne Worcester, who will continue in that position, said four of the deals are for three years. Negotiations on the length of Aetna's commitment are ongoing, she said.
The tournament will keep its name, Barnes said. A nonprofit or special-purpose entity likely will be created to take over the operations from Connecticut Professional Tennis, the for-profit organization which had leased the tournament's sanction from the USTA, he said.
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