Singapore, seats and a Chinese mistake

There was a time when the season ending championships used to be a big deal. But we have to go back a couple of decades to find that time. For the women, the golden years ended when the championships left Madison Square Garden in New York City almost 20 years ago. At the time the WTA started to run after money. The biggest offer gets the games, Olympic style. That run just reached its peak because Shenzen in China will host the WTA finals for the next ten (!!!) years.

Right now I´m in Singapore, where a five-year run is just about to end. Having attended the WTA finals here for the last three years, I think I can say a thing or two about “selling tennis to the east”. It all started when the traditional European indoor circuit was cut short because of the WTA expansion plan. Asia, especially China, is the place to go, they thought. A premium mandatory tournament in Beijing was added. Wuhan was the next big Chinese city to get a premium 5 tournament. The WTA also added a season ending tournament for those who just didn´t get to the top eight. And in which country was this one? China, of course.

Singapore is not in China, but we are in a country where tennis is not so established yet. The first time I came here I thought it could be difficult to get tickets, so I bought them just as they went on sale. As it turned out, there were masses of empty seats and good tickets were on sale even on the day of play. Then I found out even more. The tickets are divided into two categories, A and B. A´s are close to the court, B´s somewhat further. But purchasing A´s is not worth it, because no one is interested where you are sitting. And because the stadium is quite empty anyway, there is a lot of room to sit. Last year, as well as this year, I have taken the best seats with a category B ticket.

Singapore indoor stadium is a great venue to host this kind of tournament, but you just don´t get the feeling like the tournament is somehow important. The same thing can be said about the tournaments in China. The WTA went after money, but it got empty seats and didn´t get any atmosphere. Those tournaments would be much better in Europe or United States. I think the WTA should go back to its roots and stop this massive China campaign. Do the players really want that extra money? I bet they are not even asked. I think they would rather play with a decent crowd watching.


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