WTA Finals: Singapore faces stiff competition to host future editions with 4 cities submitting bids

(From left) Caroline Garcia, Venus Williams, Elina Svitolina, Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova, Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Ostapenko posing with the trophy in front of the Merlion on Oct 20, 2017. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The Republic will face stiff competition to maintain its status as host city of the WTA Finals when its current five-year expires next year.

Women's Tennis Association chief executive Steve Simon confirmed on Wednesday (Oct 25) that the organising body has received bids from Manchester, Prague, St Petersburg and Shenzhen.

The current five-year deal to host the tournament in Singapore expires next year.

The venue of the season-ending tournament for 2019 and beyond is scheduled to be announced in April, said Simon during the WTA year-end press conference at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Praising Singapore for a job well done in hosting the US$7-million (S$9.5-million) event since 2014, he added: " We have said all along that we'd be very interested in discussing an extension.

"We had an agreement that we would sit down following this event when they saw the results of this event and have a conversation about 2019 and the future, and I'm looking forward to those conversations."

He also said two other cities have indicated their interest, although bids from these cities have not been received.

The inaugural BNP Paribas WTA Finals in Singapore presented by SC Global in 2014 drew more than 129,000 fans over 10 competition days. That figure increased slightly to over 130,000 across 11 competition days the next year.

Last year's crowd figures, spread over eight competition days, are not available.

Prior to Singapore, Istanbul staged the WTA Finals from 2011 to 2013.

Of the four cities that have submitted their bids, three hold annual tournaments on either the men's or women's tours.

The Sibur Arena in Russia hosts two events - the St Petersburg Ladies' Trophy, a WTA Premier tournament, and the St Petersburg Open, an ATP 250 event for men.

Shenzhen's Longgang Sports Centre is also a venue to two tournaments for men and women.

Prague, in addition to hosting the annual WTA Prague Open, has also hosted the Fed Cup final several times, including in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

More recently, last month's Laver Cup also took place in Prague.

The Manchester Arena had been a preferred choice for Great Britain's 2015 Davis Cup semi-final tie against Australia, but a clash in dates saw the matches held in Glasgow instead.

WTA president Micky Lawler noted there were "pros and cons to every city".

Highlighting Europe's status as a traditional tennis market and the potential of China, she also added that Singapore is "good for business" as the tournament has received strong support from the government and other partners.

"Singapore offers a lot of what we are looking for to continue - (it) is a global capital, cosmopolitan, very international," said Lawler.

"The event has become better and better each year, the audience in Singapore is very demanding and used to big and great premium events. Formula One can attest to that."

Sarah Clements, vice-president of tennis (Asia) at event promoter and organiser Lagardere Sports, said: "We thank the WTA for acknowledging the role that Singapore has played in the success of the tournament.

"Together with our partners, we have elevated the status of the tournament, creating meaningful outcomes, from commercial value for our stakeholders, to exceptional player sentiment, community development and branding for the host city.

"The strong interest to host the tournament is testament to the strong synergy between the many important partners that make this tournament an attractive proposition, and the iconic global property that it is today."

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