S'pore on shortlist for prestigious ATP finals

Republic among 5 cities vying to be venue for men's tennis season finale beyond 2020

Singapore is in contention to welcome top men's tennis players after the Republic was yesterday included on the shortlist of five cities vying to host the season-ending ATP Finals beyond 2020.

The ATP, which governs professional men's tennis, said in a statement that Singapore, Manchester, Tokyo, Turin and current host city London are being assessed in the final phase of the bidding process for the 2021 to 2025 season-enders.

A decision on the tournament's next host will be made no earlier than March. The event features the year's top eight men's singles players and top eight doubles pairs.

The final phase will see the ATP visit the candidate cities to further review their respective visions for the Finals. The Straits Times understands that the visit to Singapore will take place next month.

"The level of interest we have received worldwide reflects the rich heritage of this unique tournament," said ATP executive chairman and president Chris Kermode in a statement. "It has been a highly competitive process and the candidate cities on the shortlist deserve huge credit for the passion and creative vision they have shown."

The bid process, which started in August and is handled by Deloitte's sports business group, saw over 40 cities express interest.

CIMB Private Banking economist Song Seng Wun believes Singapore's ability to host top sporting events was never a concern, but its small domestic market could be a disadvantage. "Singapore is attractive in that it is a compact city, easy to get in and out of, so the attraction from a logistical standpoint is very simple," he told ST.

PROS AND CONS

Singapore is attractive in that it is a compact city, easy to get in and out of... But the disadvantage is its small population and even smaller tennis-playing population.

SONG SENG WUN, economist, weighing Singapore's chances of winning the bid to stage the ATP Finals.

"But the disadvantage is its small population and even smaller tennis-playing population. So you really are looking to pull people in from abroad and around the region, and you really will have to have players with drawing power."

The 20,000-capacity 02 Arena in London, which has hosted the Finals since 2009, has attracted more than 2.5 million fans. The attendance for this year's US$8.5 million (S$11.7 million) Nitto ATP Finals was 243,819.

The women's equivalent of the season-ender, the US$7 million WTA Finals, was staged at the 12,000-capacity Singapore Indoor Stadium for the last five years. It drew about 130,000 fans a year for the first two editions and 168,000 last year.

Song feels a successful bid will be "a feather in the cap" for Singapore.

He said: "(The ATP Finals) are one of the mature tennis events, so it will have a following and you will get tennis fans (interested).

"Whether or not they come depends on (which players) are playing that particular year, but it is a well-known event so it does fill up Singapore's sporting calendar."

Sport Singapore, the Singapore Tourism Board and Singapore Sports Hub said in a joint statement: "We are delighted to be shortlisted as a finalist to be the next host city of the Nitto ATP Finals.

"We hope that a quality event such as this will continue to grow the sport here, draw spectators from the region and drive visitor arrivals and spend.

"This is also in line with our efforts to host world-class events that can inspire the enjoyment of sport here, and add to our vibrancy and attractiveness as a sport and lifestyle destination. The Singapore Sports Hub is a world-class venue and choice for such events."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2018, with the headline 'S'pore on shortlist for prestigious ATP finals'. Print Edition | Subscribe