Kooyong on guard to ride out financial crisis

Sat Jan 17, 2009 7:29pm EST
 
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By Greg Stutchbury

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Signs that the Australian sporting public might be feeling the pinch of the global credit crunch began to emerge at this week's Kooyong Classic.

While Roger Federer thrashed compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka 6-1 6-3 to win his second Kooyong title, just over 90 percent of the 8,000 capacity center court seats were filled on Saturday.

According to official figures, ticket sales for the match were 600 down compared with the last two years, when the final had been sold out.

With the Australian stock market dropping five percent on the week and forecasts of economic turmoil rampant, tournament director Colin Stubs indicated retaining corporate box holders could be a problem.

While the tournament's sponsorship agreements are locked in for at least the next two to three years, corporate box holders only commit for one year.

"We have had some box holders with us since (the tournament started in) 1988 and the renewal rate is generally around about 85-90 percent," Stubs told Reuters in an interview at the eight-man invitational event.

"Once we get a box holder we hang on to them (but)...the question on where it will go next year, is the acid test.

"We go back to market in February to see if they will be prepared to sign on for another year."   Continued...

 
<p>Switzerland's Roger Federer waves after beating compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka in the final of the Kooyong Classic tennis tournament in Melbourne, January 17, 2009. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne</p>