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Cash crunch aside, hopes high for Davis Cup in city

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Barring a last-minute surge, True North Sports & Entertainment won’t hit its deposit goal of 5,101 for the Davis Cup tennis tie between Canada and Spain in February.

The man behind the four-day campaign, however, thinks Winnipeg has acquitted itself well to host the event.

More than 1,750 deposits of $25 had been received by 10 a.m. Monday morning, more than one-third of the goal. Kevin Donnelly, senior vice-president at True North, said there are a lot of positives to take from that. Winnipeg is in a three-way race with Vancouver and Calgary to host the international tennis event Feb. 1-3.

"In conversation with Tennis Canada on Friday when I was reporting our numbers for the first two days (about 1,200), they were impressed with our ability to get this campaign off. It proves that we have the capability to take the ball and run with it," he said.

The goal of 5,101 was not set by Tennis Canada but by True North and Tennis Manitoba, and would equal one more ticket than Vancouver could sell at the UBC Thunderbird Arena.

"If we can go to Tennis Canada with 2,000 or 2,500 deposits, that’s in no way a bad story. We pulled this together in 96 hours on zero budget," Donnelly said.

The campaign ends at 10 p.m. tonight (Monday).

Individual seat prices haven’t been set but Donnelly said if True North is successful, they’ll run from about $20 in the upper bowl to $250 for courtside.

The MTS Centre holds 15,003 for hockey but would have a capacity of around 14,700 for tennis, he said.

"You have to sell a certain level above the baseline. We won’t put up hockey glass and we don’t want somebody to take a Milos Raonic serve off the forehead," he said.

Raonic, the highest-ranked Canadian singles player of all time at No. 15, and Daniel Nestor, arguably the greatest doubles player ever, will lead Team Canada, while Rafael Nadal, already one of the all-time greats and currently No. 4, is expected to lead the Spaniards.

Fans who put down a deposit will get the first crack at tickets for the entire three-day event – Davis Cup ties involve two singles matches on the first day, a doubles match on the second and two more singles matches on the third – or for individual days.

According to a recent Davis Cup study, the average economic impact for host cities of a first-round tie in the world group is $4 million.

For example, when Austin, Texas, hosted Spain for a semi-final tie in July, 2011, the three-day attendance was 48,807 and 54 per cent of ticket buyers came from outside an 80-mile radius. There were nearly 7,500 room nights taken out in local hotels attributed to the event.

It’s expected a decision on the winning bid will be made next week.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Monday, October 29, 2012 at 11:15 AM CDT: photo update

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