• Loading stock data...
Monday, April 15, 2024
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -

ATP-WTA Merger Talks Stalling Potential Tennis Expansion in U.S.

  • Saudi money could bring the tours together with a $2 billion bid.
  • Stakeholders in the U.S. are left in a wait-and-see mode.
Desert Sun

As professional tennis stakeholders consider accepting billions of dollars from Saudi Arabia to potentially merge the top men’s and women’s tours, the billionaires who run said tournaments Stateside, and elsewhere, are left in a holding pattern.

The top men’s and women’s players will be back together again at the Madrid Open later this month, but one needs to look no further than this week’s women’s-only event in South Carolina, where No. 5–ranked Jessica Pegula gave her support for an ATP-WTA merger during an interview with Front Office Sports. That tournament, the Charleston Open, is one of three owned by Ben Navarro, the founder of Sherman Financial Group who carries a net worth estimated to be $3 billion.

Navarro, after trying to buy the Carolina Panthers in 2018, shifted more focus to tennis. In ’22, his family office, Beemok Capital, spent $300 million to buy the Cincinnati Open (formerly the Western & Southern Open). Then last year, he considered a $400 million deal with the city of Charlotte to move that co-sanctioned ATP-WTA out of Cincinnati. 

With deep pockets and a heavy interest in sports, it would seem inevitable that someone like Navarro, whose daughter, Emma, is the No. 20–ranked women’s tennis player in the world, would keep expanding their portfolio. But the uncertainty of what the professional game will look like in the next 12 to 24 months is giving some pause. “It would be hard for us to try and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to try and get there right now.’ We don’t know what ‘there’ is yet,” says Bob Moran, the president of Beemok Sports and Entertainment. “But once we have a better understanding of what ‘there’ is, then I think we’ll regroup and see.”

In the meantime, some tournaments could be missing out on crucial investment. Beemok is contributing $260 million toward improvements at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Cincinnati and spent $50 million on recent renovations in Charleston. For Beemok, eventual expansion could be another look at Charlotte—a “great city” with powerful fan and corporate bases, Moran says—but it’s clear any new opportunities will make sense only after any theoretical merger takes place. “I do believe we need to be one tennis,” says Moran, emphasizing that bringing tournaments’ rights and governance together would be the “right thing to do.”

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Star-Studded NBA Play-In a Potential Ratings Boon for ESPN and TNT

The initial portion of the NBA postseason features three former MVPs.

NBA’s Two Tourneys Drive Record Attendance

Total attendance for the 2023–24 season, which ended Sunday, was 22,538,518.

Salt Lake City About to Land NHL’s Coyotes (Minus Their Name)

Salt Lake City’s NHL franchise will have a new name.

NFL’s Expanded Helmet Options Come With a Perk: More Merch

Teams can now add a third helmet design to their overall look.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy Make Media Moves


Featured Today

Women’s Basketball Finally Has a TV Deal to Match the Excitement. Now What?

A lucrative new media-rights contract could rectify problems of the past, but the future of March Madness media rights is anyone’s guess.
Mar 16, 2024; Washington, D.C., USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward DJ Burns Jr. (30) cuts the net after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels for the ACC Conference Championship at Capital One Arena.
April 6, 2024

How Two College Seniors Helped DJ Burns Cash In on a Final Four Run

Two college seniors are facilitating deals for NC State’s big man.
Mar 31, 2024; Portland, OR, USA; NCAA officials measure the three point line while coaches from the Texas Longhorns and NC State Wolfpack watch with referees in the finals of the Portland Regional of the NCAA Tournament at the Moda Center center.
April 1, 2024

NCAA Has No One to Blame for Latest Women’s March Madness Transgressions

NCAA is still making avoidable mistakes three years after a complete overhaul.
Nov 16, 2015; Bloomington, IN, USA; General view of the championship banners at Assembly Hall prior to the game between Austin Peay and Indiana.
March 31, 2024

How to Make It in Basketball: Become a Manager at Indiana

Inside the Hoosiers’ unglamorous, profoundly rewarding incubator for basketball’s biggest names.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers
Dunham's Sports
Multiple - USA Careers
Ken Goldin

Goldin Auctions Acquisition by eBay Sparks Showdown With Fanatics

The online giant acquires the prominent high-end sports memorabilia auction house.
April 8, 2024

WNBA Commish Wants New Media-Rights Deal to Double Old One

The media-rights deal expires in 2025 to coincide with the Caitlin Clark effect.
April 10, 2024

WNBA Has New Commercial Partner: Over-the-Counter Birth Control

WNBA teams up with FDA-approved over-the-counter birth control.

Rapid Returns: How Technology Is Getting You Back to Your Seat

How Oracle’s POS technology is helping fans get back to their seats faster.
April 4, 2024

WTA Finals Latest Sporting Event To Take Saudi Millions

Players can still wear normal attire, WTA says.
April 4, 2024

Taking a Toll: NYC Marathon Bridge Dispute Spotlights Debate Over Public Support for Sports

A local transportation authority demands money from organizers of the TCS New York City Marathon.
April 1, 2024

Liberty Media’s History of Revving Up Success Bodes Well for MotoGP

The Formula One owner looks to build its already-growing motor-sports presence.
April 1, 2024

Failure of Ted Leonsis’ Virginia Arena Gambit Could be Warning for Other Franchises

Why the Caps’ and Wizards’ failed moves could be just the beginning.