Los Angeles Business Journal

Farmers Classic Tennis Tournament to End

By Deborah Crowe Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Southern California Tennis Association announced that the Farmers Classic men's tennis tournament at UCLA will be discontinued after efforts to find new sponsors for the financially struggling event were unsuccessful.

The association said that its Association of Tennis Professionals sanction for the event has been sold for an undisclosed sum to a group in Bogota, Colombia, which has not yet announced its plans.

The men’s tournament, part of the ATP World Tour 250, started in 1927 at the Los Angeles Tennis Club. The event over the years has attracted such tennis greats as Arthur Ashe, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, but participation by top-seeded athletes had fallen off in recent years.

The tournament’s two most-recent principal sponsors, Farmers Insurance and Mercedes-Benz, both declined to renew their sponsorships earlier this year. The sale of the tournament sanction is expected to close next year pending approval by the ATP board.

Tennis.com reports that the Indian Wells Masters in Miami had made an effort to buy the tournament, but initial talks broke down. Its management team now claims that it was not given the opportunity to match the Colombian offer. Tournament Director Bob Kramer disputes that contention, telling the website it was his group’s understanding that Indian Wells Masters was not ready to make a firm offer.

“We have worked closely with the university, the local tennis community, the tennis industry, the ATP, the USTA and others to find an acceptable solution,” Kramer said in a letter emailed to tournament fans and the media. “Our search for a suitable investor or strategic partner, which would allow us to keep our event in Los Angeles and on the UCLA campus, has included more than a year of exploration and serious meetings, but has not yielded the results we had hoped for and needed.”

Kramer did not return calls to the Business Journal on Wednesday.