Will It Stay or Will It Go?

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.

Check out the announcement video here!

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Anne C. Sesler

Director of Public Affairs

Anne Sesler brings more than twenty years’ experience in public affairs consulting to Government Strategies Group. Anne works with local elected officials, state legislators, reporters and community leaders on behalf of corporate and non-profit clients developing community outreach and engagement strategies, conducts media relations, builds grassroots support for projects, and conducts communication with stakeholders and legislators.

Anne lends her public policy and political communication experience beyond GSG to her role as Vice Chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party. Over the years, she’s offered political counsel to both state and local campaigns, including Preschool Promise, Ohio Jobs and Growth (the casino ballot initiative), United for Jobs and Ohio’s Future (Third Frontier), and many others. Anne lives in Mt. Lookout with her husband, Bryan.

Focus areas: 

  • Local government relations
  • Coalition building
  • Media relations and communications
  • Crisis communications

Driven by:

  • Making Cincinnati a better place for all

In the community:

  • Leadership Cincinnati Class 47
  • Cincinnati Planning Commission member
  • Lunken Airport Oversight and Advisory Board Chair
  • Cincinnati Democratic Committee Co-Chair
  • Hamilton County Democratic Party, Vice Chair
  • Mt. Lookout Community Council member

Charles “Chip” Gerhardt

President & CEO

Chip Gerhardt has made government affairs, economic development, and issue advocacy his life’s work. He’s worked for decades in the public and private sectors, and advocated at the local, state, and federal levels of government. In 2007, he used that experience to found Government Strategies Group, a full-service government relations firm. At GSG, he works directly with clients, helping them navigate the complicated intersection of politics, public policy, and business.

In his many years in public policy, Chip has been involved in significant policies including; creation of tax increment financing districts, the Clean Ohio program, Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation, and most importantly, the passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. He has also been at the forefront of some of the biggest developments in Greater Cincinnati, including the Horseshoe (now Hard Rock) Casino, TQL Stadium for FC Cincinnati, parking garage structures at The Banks, and the redevelopment of the @580 building. Rarely is there a public policy endeavor in Cincinnati that does not involve GSG.

Chip received his B.B.A in Marketing from the University of Notre Dame and his Juris Doctor from the St. Louis University School of Law. He lives in Anderson Township with his wife Jane. Son Charlie is a local chef and children Hank and Anne have completed their education and started lives of their own.

Focus areas:

  • State and local government relations
  • Economic development
  • Issue advocacy

Driven by:

  • A lifelong interest in the political system has driven Chip to a career in public policy and politics. As a parent of three, one with Down syndrome, has compelled him to promote public policies designed to help others. Whether it is enabling financial independence for people with disabilities, advancing funding for housing families facing homelessness, or assisting with economic development projects, Chip involves himself in things that make a positive difference. 

In the community:

  • Hamilton County Board of Elections member
  • Current Board Member for Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, People Working Cooperatively, Corporation for Findlay Market, goVibrant, and the African American Chamber of Commerce
  • Former Chairman of the Board for the National Down Syndrome Society
  • Former board member of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce, and the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati
  • Cincinnati Magazine’s 300 of the Region’s Most Powerful Business Leaders, 2021-2022
  • Cincy Magazine Power 100, 2011-2022