Will it stay or will it go? That was the question on tennis enthusiasts’ minds across the region and beyond when the news broke last year that the United States Tennis Association had sold the 124-year-old Western & Southern Open tennis tournament to Beemok Capital, a company based in Charleston, South Carolina. Reports began to circulate hinting that the beloved tournament could relocate from Mason, Ohio to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2025.
“The idea that the tournament could potentially leave Greater Cincinnati was obviously met with a lot of resistance from the community,” said Jim Benedict of GSG. “With an economic impact of about $80 million for our region, stakeholders from the State of Ohio, Warren County, City of Mason, Tennis For Charity, REDI Cincinnati and the Cincinnati business community came together to develop a plan to keep the expanded, 2-week tournament and anticipated investment in Mason.”
Ultimately, community leaders from both the private and public sectors were able to work together to identify $50 million from the state of Ohio, $50 million from Warren County, $30 million from the City of Mason, and new corporate sponsorships to ensure that the tournament had every possible chance to stay in Greater Cincinnati. .
Earlier this week, it was announced that not only would Beemok keep the tournament in Mason, but that it would be bigger and more robust than ever with a minimum investment of $260 million. According to Benedict, “Working as a team with key stakeholders and community leaders to navigate a solution for this hometown sporting event to stay where it belongs is a win for our entire region.”
The Western & Southern Open tennis tournament was founded in 1899 and is the oldest tennis tournament played in its original city. The tournament includes more than 1,300 volunteers and in 2023 hosted nearly 200,000 guests.