The ATP World Tour Finals will enjoy a 10-year spell in London after it was confirmed that the event will remain at The O2 until 2018.
The tournament has been a hugely successful one for the ATP, with last year’s event reaching 100 million TV viewers worldwide, a 25% increase on the previous year.
The 2014 tournament welcomed a record 263,560 fans across eight days of competition, making it the best-attended tournament in its 45-year history. Nine of the 15 sessions sold out for the 17,800-capacity arena, and the ATP’s official digital channels received 74 million page impressions during the tournament’s duration.
“We are delighted to have reached an agreement which will see the tournament celebrate its 10th successive year in London in 2018,” ATP Executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode announced on Thursday at the 2015 tournament’s official launch at City Hall. “The tournament has been a spectacular success since moving to The O2 in 2009, generating record crowds, incredible atmospheres, and a soaring worldwide TV audience which broke the 100 million mark for the first time last year.
“The O2 has enabled us to present the sport in a new and vibrant way, in a media-friendly time zone, and in one of the world’s greatest cities. For us, there is currently no better place to stage our season-ending event.”
“We are delighted that the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals will remain at The O2 until 2018,” said Alex Hill, chief operating officer of AEG Europe, the company that owns venue. “London is the perfect city to host the elite players of world tennis, with a fan base that is second to none.
“Nothing beats the atmosphere of a UK crowd and we know The O2 is the right venue to ensure this event continues to be such a global success. The ATP’s season finale is undoubtedly one of the most successful events we host throughout the year, and I look forward to even more great tennis in London.”
However, the ATP will be in search of a new title sponsor after Barclays announced last week it will not extend its sponsorship of the ATP World Tour Finals beyond 2016. The bank, which will also end its sponsorship of the Premier League at the end of the 2015-16 season, has been the title sponsor since the event moved to London in 2009, signing an initial five-year deal in 2008 worth around £3.5 million a year.
Back in 2009, the landscape was a very different one. The event had undergone a rebranding from its previous iteration in Shanghai and research suggested that few people in the UK had even heard of the Tennis Masters Cup. When the ATP brought the season-ending finale back to Europe, The O2 was still in its infancy as one of the biggest music venues in the world – it was still shrugging off its reputation as the disastrous Millennium Dome.
Much like the arena that hosts it, the reputation of the ATP World Tour Finals has enjoyed meteoric growth. With its dramatic lighting, R&B music and smoke, it could not be further removed from the prestige and tradition of The Championships, and it has created a niche; firmly establishing itself as a fixture in the British sporting calendar.
With a $7 million prize pot and more than one and a half million fans attending the event since 2009, the gamble has well and truly paid off for both the ATP and its partners.
“After what will have been eight great years as title sponsor of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals it has been decided that we will not be extending our sponsorship beyond the 2016 tournament,” Barclays said in a statement last week.
“The tournament is a fantastic event, superbly organised by the ATP, and we are extremely proud of our part in helping establish it here in London. However, due to changes in commercial priorities at Barclays we have, after careful consideration, decided we will not be able to carry on as sponsor beyond the current term.
“We are fully committed to continuing to strongly activate the sponsorship both this year and until the end of the 2016 tournament and wish the ATP and the tournament continued success.”