Vacant Seats at the Shanghai Masters Tennis

Written by Peter Gehr Senior Tennis Editor

Andy Murray wins the Shanghai Rolex Masters Tennis Series. Photo: J Servat

Despite the state-of-the-art Grand Slam ready stadium, Shanghai Masters tennis fans were few and far between at last week’s Rolex Masters Series. Event organizers are still trying to figure out how to attract attention to tennis tournaments of this caliber, but the lack of attendance has left them red-faced.

Was it due to the high-priced tickets, or the long commute from the city center, or a mismanagement of game schedules during regular work hours? This poor turnout has been otherwise reported as a “sea of empty seats,” as described by the following report.

Shanghai Masters Tennis : Vacant Seats at Tournament

“Tapping the Chinese market: The ATP wended its way through Shanghai for the Rolex Masters Series event last week; and it afforded us a chance to ponder this Zen riddle: if a seed falls in a tennis tournament and no one is there to see it, did it really happen? There were a number of upsets and intriguing results — not least, Rafael Nadal falling to Germany’s Florian Mayer. Andy Murray continued his autumn tear, taking out David Ferrer to win the title. (And, in the process, knock Roger Federer down to No. 4 in the rankings.)

Sadly most of the action played out in front of appalling small crowds; we’re talking fewer fans than attend the average high school match. A JV high school match. Like most businesses, sports properties devote great time and resources figuring out how to penetrate China and tap into the world’s largest population.

But that sure didn’t translate to fans last week…there were vast oceans of empty seats. This doesn’t mean the event was a failure. Attendance is only part of the sports equation, a diminishing one at that. Still, it suggests that for all of China’s potential, there’s work to be done.”

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Is this a demographic debacle or simply a matter of the sports authorities from the Shanghai masters tennis working on potential Chinese tennis fans in order to fill seats? Creating a following for such world class tennis may take some planning, and the rising star, Li Ma, may just volley for the attention of the volumes of potential locals to get them more excited about the game.



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