Generally on a Monday morning, the Grand Central subway station is a bastion of well-dressed business people, gritting their teeth, and making the transition from the weekend to the work week. This morning, however, I noticed a higher proportion of smiling, bright-eyed people, and many of them were wearing tennis gear, looking more casual than the usual Grand Central commuter. They were almost all crossing the station towards the 7 train, heading to the Queens-bound side of the platform. They were most likely on their way to the train's penultimate stop, Mets - Willets Point, and they weren't going to a Mets game. Rather, these dressed-down, cheerful fans were heading to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the first day of play in the 2013 US Open Tennis Championships, the most attended annual sporting event in the world.
That's right: Over 700,000 people will migrate from across the city, the country, and the world to watch America's only Grand Slam tennis championship over the course of the next two weeks. Only events like the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, which occur every four years, garner larger crowds.
This year's US Open is expected to bring in over $720 million in economic activity to New York City, which the US Tennis Association has said is due largely to tennis fans from around the world coming to New York to see not just world class sport, but also the sights and sounds of the city. The event is particularly beneficial to Queens, where hotels, restaurants, bars, and all kinds of attractions and accommodations see business thrive with the influx of international tennis fans.
By comparison, the Super Bowl, that American holy grail of sports advertising and consumption, generally generates $430 million for its host city. Of course, New York is sitting pretty, as Super Bowl XLVIII will be played on February 2, 2014, at MetLife Stadium, the New Jersey home of both the New York Giants and the New York Jets (it is the only NFL stadium to host two teams).
Murray and Nadal at the 2011 Japan Open in Tokyo. Murray won.
The economic pull of the US Open obviously makes sponsorship desirable as well: New York-based companies JPMorgan Chase
(NYSE:JPM), Time Warner Cable
(NYSE:TWC), American Express
(NYSE:AXP), and IBM
(NYSE:IBM), as well as Heineken
(OTCMKTS:HINKY), Emirates, and Mercedes-Benz, are among the many corporate sponsors.
The US Open players will also see a lot economic activity this year; the total winnings for the tournament have been increased to $34.3 million, from $24.1 million last year. The men's and women's singles champions will each take home $2.6 million in prize money, while the runner-ups will take home a more-than-solid $1.3 million. For qualifying and playing in the first round of the singles draw, the reward is $32,000.
The defending champion this year is Andy Murray, the Scotsman who is fresh off of winning Wimbledon in July, making him the first British man to win the tournament since Fred Perry in 1936.
Murray has a lot of momentum, but so does the No. 1 ranked Serbian player Novak Djokovic, whom Murray beat in the Wimbledon final. Murray is ranked No. 3, behind No. 1 Djokovic and No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who dominated the French Open this year for his eighth win of that title. Nadal fell in the first round of Wimbledon this year, but still, he is in top form; he has won 53 professional matches this year, and he has lost only three. Even more amazing is the fact that Nadal has a winning record against every player in the top 30.
Other contenders include No. 4 David Ferrer, the 31-year-old Spaniard who is reaching his prime late in his career; No. 5 Tomas Berdych; No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro; and No. 7 Roger Federer, who has won the US Open five times.
It has been a wonderfully unpredictable year for tennis, and this year's US Open appears to be no exception. What is predicted, though, is that the US Open is and will continue to be a strong financial asset for New York City.
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