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WTA Championships Leaving L.A.

June 30, 2005|Lisa Dillman

WIMBLEDON, England — The season-ending WTA Championships will be moving from Staples Center to Madrid in 2006, ending the tournament's four-year run in Los Angeles, according to WTA Chief Executive Larry Scott.

An official announcement is scheduled for today off-site at Wimbledon.

Scott said in a telephone interview Wednesday that the plan was to move the marquee event to the Madrid Arena, the location of the men's Masters Series event, where capacity is about 10,000.

Ion Tiriac, the former pro player and high-profile agent, will be the promoter. Ownership rights, which had been shared between Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and the sports management firm Octagon, have been bought back by the WTA Tour for 2006, officials said.

Scott said the championships were awarded to Madrid for one year.

"That doesn't mean it can only be one year," Scott said.

In Los Angeles, the event was marked by title sponsorship switches and uncertainty, and plagued by attendance problems early on, particularly in its first year at Staples Center in 2002. Crowds in the afternoon sessions appeared to number in the hundreds in the cavernous arena.

Increased promotion, elimination of the day sessions on the weekdays and the change to a round-robin format in 2003 helped alleviate attendance woes. Last year, the final between Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams drew 11,397, and total attendance was 53,343, up from 44,889 in 2003.

This year's WTA Championships are scheduled for Nov. 9-14 at Staples Center.

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