Great response from the first week of my three-take feature, which will include observations/analysis/news/reader feedback throughout the week on Cincinnati.com. Email your questions and comments to [email protected] Let’s get week 2 rolling.
1. Western & Southern Open: Where is it going?
The Western & Southern Open, which ended on Sunday, have a new one foreign owner. The move has some Greater Cincinnati influencers nervous about the long-term future of the W&S Open — and that’s understandable.
foreign ownership is always a threat to moving a business, professional sports franchise or event.
South Carolina billionaire Ben Navarro announced on Aug. 12 that its Charleston-based firm Beemok Capital had bought the tournament from the US Tennis Association, which has a local group that hosts the W&S Open.
Navarro has not given any media interviews where he has discussed his intentions for the W&S Open. His company did not respond to my email requesting an interview with Navarro.
Speculation about the future of the W&S Open is rife in the tennis community, including that Navarro could move it to Charleston. He recently watered $50 million to renovate Charleston’s tennis stadiumwhich Navarro owns in addition to the annual Charleston Open women’s tournament.
The W&S Open is one of nine global men’s ATP Masters 1,000 tournaments that are considered just one tier below Grand Slam events. The week-long W&S Open in Mason usually attracts around 200,000 fans from around the world. Fans from 30 countries bought tickets this year, tournament officials told me.
The tournament has been held in the greater Cincinnati area since 1899, and it would stink to lose what some in the business community are calling our “fourth major league sport.” It’s a great people-watching event, attracts the best players in the world, has a reported $70 million regional economic impact and makes us unique on the sporting landscape among peer cities.
The W&S Open is unlikely to happen any time soon, according to discussions with tennis and business leaders. Logistically, it’s difficult to quickly move an event that requires a large footprint. The W&S Open uses 90 acres for the Lindner Family Tennis Center and adjacent parking lot.
Western & Southern is signed as title sponsor until 2024. W&S CEO John Barrett, a blueblood from Cincinnati, will fight to keep the tournament here. The lease of the W&S Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center expires in 2029. I wouldn’t be surprised if the tournament left the Cincinnati area for Charleston or a larger market (Chicago?) in the next five years.
Would you be upset if the tournament left town?
2. Upcoming: Riverfront Stadium Movie
Walks will haunt you, but memories of Riverfront Stadium (and its jumbotron animation) never will.
Local filmmaker Cam Miller will premiere his latest project, “Riverfront Remembered” at 7:05 p.m. on September 9 at the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum.
The 30-minute film about the once great riverside baseball field will be shown in the Hall of Fame Theater. Miller, also a historian working for the Reds HOF, will hold a question and answer session and then lead a brief tour of the Riverfront Stadium’s old markings around The Banks.
3. Cincinnati High School Football: Community Connection
I’ve found myself getting more and more excited high school football season the last few years. I live in Wyoming and like to go to Cowboys games. Why is that? Both of my sons are in elementary school. I didn’t grow up here, so I have no alumni love or allegiance for Wyoming High.
Sitting in the home stand with friends and family during the season opener in Wyoming on Friday, I realized why preseason football is such a big deal for Greater Cincinnatians: it binds our communities together like maybe nothing else. It’s not unique to the Cincinnati or Ohio metro area, but the Wyoming games have helped me strengthen relationships with my neighborhood friends.
We look forward to playing at someone’s house before the game before heading to Bob Lewis Stadium together. It’s simple but special, and it’s something I never experienced growing up on a farm in rural Southeast Ohio. My high school was 9 miles from home.
Is your local high school football team a link to the community for you too?
Reach out to sports columnist Jason Williams via email at [email protected] and Twitter @jwilliamscincy.