A few weeks ago I said the USTA were hanging onto hope as they look to still deliver a full US Open tournament at Flushing Meadows and that certainly still seems to be the case.
The situation is still the same, part of the Billie Jean King Tennis Center was used as a small hospital for those with Covid-19 but it is understood to be beginning to wined down after the last patient left the site as is one of the courts at Flushing Meadows which was being used to prepare over 20,000 food packages.
It did seem to be off the cards but a potential move from Flushing Meadows to Indian Wells is certainly not being ruled out but major discussion will need to be had with the owner of the site Larry Ellison.
The USTA does have a site a little closer to Flushing Meadows in Orlando but it has no seating structure for fans or to deal with the capacity of holding a fully delivered Grand Slam.
Over $400 million comes in yearly from the US Open and it makes up for over 80% of the USTA’s revenue which would be catastrophic to see the event not be held but safety is paramount especially in the worst affected city in the world with over 21,000 death and 330,000 cases.
A cancellation would be a catastrophic but it is understood there would be some cash flow protected if it were to be called off.
Calling off the US Open is not as simple as calling off Wimbledon as the USTA opted against a decision to purchase insurance relating to forced cancellations due to a pandemic and other factors. The known ones are of course Wimbledon and the organisers of the New York City Marathon who purchased after 9/11 attack but the USTA didn’t as it was expensive. It is understood to be a few million a year but for an event that brings in $400 million yearly it barely seems like a drop in the ocean.
Cancelling the US Open would of course for the USTA to some sort of restructure but also tighten their belts and have already pledged $15 million to help tennis facilities and grass roots tennis in America.
Not only that but the USTA did borrow $700 million from Fitch to help with projects across the association.
Fitch recently published a report giving the USTA currently an A- on credit which you can read below:
The original $700 million was secured by putting forward revenue, ticket sales and money from media deals and the report from Fitch says the USTA would be able to cover it’s annual payments hence the rating of A- even with a potential cancellation a possibility.
A decision is no where closer. An announcement from the ATP and WTA is expected in the first week of June regarding the summer of tennis but it is possible we might not get decision until July on the US Open which begins in late August.
There are a lot of things to be considered, how will the rate of coronavirus be by then? Will players be able to travel in from all over the world? Will it be safe for fans?