A Dubai Double Fault

Ok, let’s just say it. The UAE’s effort for the IPTL wasn’t good. Tennis in the country has a long standing tradition. Amateurs regularly fill the courts and we have not one but two annual events where the best of the best are in action.

The Mubadala World Championship in Abu Dhabi never has a spare seat. Ok so it’s only a few days long and it’s the cream of the crop on court but ticket sales and bums on seats don’t lie. The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships doesn’t really get to “where can we sit” status until it reaches its semi-final and finals stages, but its watched worldwide and Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and the Williams sisters wouldn’t keep coming back if they didn’t deem it worthy.

So what went wrong with the Indian Tennis Premier League? The first three weekends of play in Manila, Singapore and New Delhi had close to 30,000 spectators each. Now look at Dubai for the grand finale and the TV directors were choosing their camera angles very carefully so as not to show the sparse attendances.  
You could suggest we have become numb to seeing the worlds greatest compete across the UAE or maybe the Hamdan Sports Complex isn’t yet a location that most feel comfortable finding. But when it comes down to it, as with so many of these situations, it’s the marketing to blame.

As is so often the case many simply weren’t aware of it happening. Your hardcore hard-court fan would know but they don’t fill the stands. It’s the curious that you need to target if you want to have a chance of sending the “we are sold out” messages to media outlets.
Let’s hope lessons have been learned and the PR ball is handed over to a company that can serve up a marketing ace next year.

A perfect example right now is the Volvo Ocean Race’s stopover in Abu Dhabi. The last and first time they arrived two years ago proved to be a hit and it’s the same this year. The BBC Blue Planet Concerts were a genius attraction and the ADTA should be congratulated again for turning an unfamiliar boat race into a community building spectacle.
IPTL organisers, take note.

Graham Clews

Graham is the TV Sports anchor for Emirates News, every night on Dubai One.

Interested in all aspects of sport and keen for local events to gain publicity and support. Lucky enough to have interviewed a lot of big names such as Beckham, Charlton, Viera, Federer, Murray, Montgomerie, Westwood, Botham, Ponting and Flintoff to name a few.

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