Becker trying to save Hamburg TMS
Boris Becker to market struggling Hamburg tournament
Hamburg, July 19
Boris Becker and his company BCI agreed Friday to take over the marketing for the struggling Hamburg tournament, one of the prestigious Masters Series in men's tennis.
The Hamburg event is without a major sponsor or television coverage this year, due in part to tennis' sinking popularity in Germany since the retirement of Becker and Steffi Graf.
Becker, a three-time Wimbledon champion and still one of Germany's most popular sports figures, said he would use his name recognition in designing a marketing plan.
"We can only promise that we will works hard for Hamburg, using every means and possibilities," Becker said.
The German Tennis Federation, which struck the deal with BCI, denied that Becker will also take over the vacant post of tournament director at the event, one of nine in the Masters Series worldwide. "A decision hasn't been made _ that's still completely open," said federation spokesman Toralf Bizer.
Becker and Graf briefly turned tennis into the second most popular sport behind soccer in the 1990s, but the failure to develop new German stars since they retired has led to television cutting sharply back on coverage and threatened the existence of several events.
Becker said he has a major sponsor in mind, while negotiations for broadcast rights with publicly owned ARD and ZDF are underway.
The federation is also trying to get ordinances through that will allow Hamburg's 30 million euros (dlrs 30 million) tennis complex to be used for various events. At the moment, it is used only three weeks a year.
"The tournament has to become a real event _ people want to experience something," Becker said.