The Women’s Tennis Association Finals made a historic return to the United States and the WTA’s choice of Fort Worth’s Dickies Arena as the site proved to be popular and successful.
Not since 2005 had the event been held in the United States and it had never been held in Texas. But the ever-growing reputation of Dickies Arena was key in bringing it here – and from the sound of things it could be coming back sooner than later.
“We had a great experience in Fort Worth and would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation for all of the support and hospitality we received from the city of Fort Worth, Visit Fort Worth and the Dickies Arena,” said WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon. “They were great hosts and the fans were incredibly enthusiastic and engaging, which made for a wonderful crowd to play in front of.”
“We will make our decision in the next several months about the location of the WTA Finals for next year,” he added, “and based upon what we experienced this year, Fort Worth is certainly a destination we would consider.”
Jason Sands, vice president of sports for Visit Fort Worth, said the eight-day event, which concluded on Nov. 7, had an estimated economic impact of more than $3 million for the Fort Worth community. But equally impactful, he said, was the national and international exposure the tournament brought the city.
“The WTA Finals were televised in 170 countries, which gave the city a platform it’s never really had before to spread the Fort Worth brand,” he said.
More than 35,000 people attended the event, with crowds surging on the weekend and for the singles and doubles championship matches on the final night, Sands said.
“The WTA was extremely happy with the turnout, and when you consider this event had about a six-week lead time when an event of this caliber generally has about 18 months of planning that goes into it, those numbers are even more impressive,” he said.
Sands said the event was yet another reminder that Fort Worth is quickly building a reputation as a world class sports destination. Earlier this year Dickies Arena hosted two early rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament – games that featured the tournament’s eventual finalists, champion Kansas and runner-up North Carolina. The venue also has hosted the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships and the Professional Bull Riders World Finals.
“Dickies Arena has been an absolute game changer for the city, and every high profile event we host like this only elevates our profile that much more,” Sands said. “To have the very best women’s tennis players in the world here in Fort Worth competing for a $5 million dollar purse was huge for our city and we’ll continue to ride this momentum to drive visitors here and positively impact our local economy.”
Sands said having Fort Worth selected for the event after it had not been in the U.S. for more than a decade and a half is a testament to the leadership of the city.
“From the mayor’s office and city leadership, our hospitality partners, Dickies Arena and on down the line – everyone pulls in the same direction to set events like the WTA Finals up for success,” he said. “We have an amazing new arena and a city that provides an authentic experience like few others can match, but it’s our collective team that has set us apart from the competition.”