WTA Finals: Making Guadalajara Before the World

Guadalajara is more than just mariachi, tequila and soccer. The city wants to capitalize on the fact that it won the most important tennis event in Mexican history, the 2021 WTA Finals, to showcase its brand in the eyes of the world by pushing its business sector, led by Akron.

Akron has earned the naming rights to the WTA Finals, which will be held for the first time in Latin America, since its birth in 1972, and is held in only 10 cities in seven countries (only the US in America). The organizers fought for this sponsorship because one of their priorities was to have a Mexican brand, especially from Guadalajara, responsible for the tournament, which attracts the top eight singles representatives and the best eight pairs each year.

“Along with the WTA come international brands like Porsche, Rolex, Amstel Ultra, Wilson and others who already have a contract, but we, as people from Guadalajara, as Mexicans, wanted a Mexican company to hold this event. We did the task of having a meeting with the WTA and Octagon (the company coordinating the tournament), and we brought together all the international and government interests so that a Mexican and Guadalajara company could take on the name,” explained Gustavo Santusque, event director, in an interview with El Economista.

A total of 11 brands appeared as sponsors for the 2021 WTA Finals during the press conference to make Guadalajara official as the venue. Among them, Akron is the most important to give the event its name and Gustavo Santosque mentions it as the only Mexican as the main sponsor, although there are others such as Caliente and Red Cola to a lesser extent.

The Akron brand of oils and lubricants was born in 1993 and as of 2018 the first gas stations opened in Mexico. In Latin America, it competes against companies such as Mobil, Exxon, Chevron and Texaco, although it has the support of auto giants such as Porsche, BWM, Volvo, Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen. In the athletic field, he was a sponsor of Esteban Gutiérrez in Formula 1, Carlos Ortiz (a Mexican on the PGA Tour) in golf tournaments, Astros de Jalisco in the National Basketball Association (LNBP) and Atlas and Chivas in Liga MX; In fact, it owns the right to name the Herd Stadium.

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Santoscoy confirms that Aga (soft drinks) and Tucane (clothing line) are other Jalisco brands that will sponsor the WTA Finals, although they will do so as operational rather than commercial allies, to provide employees with drinks and clothing.

Throughout history, the WTA Finals have held 11 naming rights: Virginia Slims, Avon, Chase, Sunex, Home Depot, Bank of America, Sony Ericsson, BNP Paribas, Economic Bank of Turkey, SC Global and Shiseido. The latter holds the rights until 2030, which is the same time that Shenzhen, China, will be the headquarters, except in 2021, when it was canceled by Covid and Guadalajara was allowed in for the only time.

The Governor of Jalisco, Enrique Alfaro, stressed that “Akron is without a doubt a very important ally of our state on these and many agendas.” He also noted that “under normal circumstances, and without a pandemic, the event could represent a $450 million leak.”

In this regard, Gustavo Santuskoy notes that the spill can be estimated concretely until knowing the capacity that the health authorities in Jalisco will allow, as it continues in meetings to define it and although “100 percent would be ideal” for it, it is also aware that This number is tough and they would be satisfied with 70%. In addition, it highlights that only the brand value of the city of Guadalajara is estimated at 150 million dollars. In the past, this city has also hosted events such as the Caribbean Series, Pan American Games, and FIFA World Cup matches.

“The WTA Finals in many ways represent the hope that we are beginning a new phase in Jalisco after a year and a half of the pandemic, a new phase in which economic revitalization has to catch up, and we are already fully working on a strategy to revitalize business, tourism, and leisure. It is a central theme in the strategy that comes with economic revitalization,” Alvaro added.

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Guadalajara won the nomination for Europe and the United States

Santuskoy tells this newspaper that the possibility of hosting the WTA Finals opened eight months ago, when China began to suspect the virus was still on its soil. So, as president of the WTA 250 held between February and March in Zapopan, he and Octagon managed to get the event to Mexico.

It was in June when the WTA pressed to look for a new headquarters before Shenzhen’s imminent demise, and eventually they were Guadalajara, Linz (Austria), Prague (Czech Republic), Los Angeles (US) and Hong Kong.

What is the factor in the decline of the WTA in favor of Guadalajara?

“What we did in February with the WTA 250 and how happy the rest of the players are has helped us a lot to trust our organization, which was perfect as a result of no injuries derived from the tournament. We had good results, we started in 2019 with the WTA 125, the smallest course on the tour. And the following year we were days away from participating in the same event but with players who came from Indian Wells (because it was canceled), we had the best in the world but it got canceled. Few years ago we gained the absolute trust of Octagon and WTA.”

Santuskoy also reveals that to move the WTA Finals headquarters to Guadalajara, they did not have to pay a fee, derived from the fact that it was a special occasion in which China, the place where the 10-year contract was held, gave up only this. edition.

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“One of the advantages is that they (the WTA) have to absorb the tournament, so it is practically funded by international sponsors. We, as assistant managers, what we put in is the house, the internal organization, the roads and the volunteers, which will be about 800 work per day, and we have 200 them already.”

For the WTA Finals, Santuskoy and his team have begun construction of a new stadium with a capacity of 6,500 fans inside the Zapopan Pan American Tennis Center, exceeding the 2,500 people currently fit to host the WTA 250 tournament. The new facility is scheduled to be concluded in the first week from november.

So far, there are three seeded in the singles category: Australian Ashleigh Barty (world number one), Belarusian Arina Sabalenka (No. 2) and Czech Barbora Krejsikova (No. 5), but next month they can still reach the score. Some numbers like Naomi Osaka, Emma Raducano and Lila Fernandez.

In the doubles branch, Japanese Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara are already ranked, as well as Czech Katerina Siniakov, who will double with Krejcikova. This means there are still five places for singles and six pairs to complete the 2021 finals schedule.

The format of the competition consists of two groups of four representatives, in both singles and doubles, where they will face each other (three matches each) from 10 to 15 November. The best players (singles and pairs) will advance to the semi-finals on November 16 and the finals on November 17.

According to Gustavo Santuskoy, the event will be broadcast in more than 180 countries and seven languages. Australian Barty will seek validation for her 2019 title, because in 2020 there was no release due to the pandemic.

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