Tennis fans didn’t come out in the same droves Thursday as their hockey counterparts did a year ago, but the man behind the ticket drive is happy with the start.
Especially considering the more than 600 deposits of $25 received by True North Sports & Entertainment were for an event that’s far from a sure thing.
"We’re very encouraged by the support," said Kevin Donnelly, True North’s senior vice-president and general manager.
True North and Tennis Manitoba launched "Advantage Winnipeg" Thursday morning, a ticket sale deposit and social-media campaign in support of the city’s bid to host the Canada-Spain Davis Cup tie Feb. 1-3 at the MTS Centre. The goal is to receive commitments for 5,101 tickets, or one more than Vancouver could sell at the UBC Thunderbird Arena.
Individual seat prices haven’t been set but Donnelly said if True North is successful in beating out rival bidders Vancouver and Calgary, they’ll run from about $20 in the upper bowl to $250 per day for courtside. It is expected there will also be weekend packages.
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 semifinal tie in July 2011, the three-day attendance was 48,807 and 54 per cent of ticket buyers came from outside a 130-kilometre radius. There were nearly 7,500 room nights taken out in area hotels attributed to the event.
It’s expected a decision on the winning bid will be made by the end of the month.