Davis Cup is hot ticket
More than 11,000 3-day books sold on first day, officials say
By John Delong
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Andy Roddick and the rest of the United States Davis Cup team want to play in front of a packed house at Joel Coliseum in April.
They're well on their way to getting their wish.
Tickets for the quarterfinal tie between the U.S. and Spain went on sale to the public yesterday, and they sold at such a brisk pace that USTA officials chose to open the entire upper deck and put additional tickets on sale.
As of last night, more than 11,000 three-day books had been sold, including all 6,400 in the lower deck. That left about 3,000 upper-deck seats available, with Joel Coliseum configured to hold 14,400 for tennis.
Bucky Dame, the director of Joel Coliseum, summed up the reaction of local organizers succinctly.
"Wow," Dame said. "What more can you say than, 'Wow.'
"This has been beyond all our expectations for the first day, and we know the USTA people are as happy as can be. In this business you don't want to talk about selling out just yet, but based on today, the potential is there. One thing we know already, it's going to be rocking."
Jeff Ryan, the USTA's director of team events, made the decision to open the entire upper deck after sales began so briskly yesterday morning. All remaining tickets are priced at $60 for the three-day book.
"Just watching the ticket orders come in this morning, it was amazing," Ryan said. "This shows there are people who are excited and ready to wrap their hands around this. And that's what the guys want.
That's what Andy and all the guys told me in the Czech Republic. They said, 'Sell it out for us. You know, we need a good crowd. This is going to be a big, tough tie, so give it your best.'
"To have the sheer volume of business right out of the gate like this has been nothing but impressive. And now our goal is to accommodate even more fans at an even more-affordable price."
The United States beat the Czech Republic earlier this month to advance. Captain Patrick McEnroe has already said that, barring injuries, his lineup will remain the same against Spain. Roddick, ranked No. 4 in the world, and No. 6 James Blake will play singles. Bob and Mike Bryan will play doubles.
Spain, which features No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal and two other players ranked in the top 15, beat Switzerland in the first round.
The tie is scheduled for April 6-8, with two singles matches on Friday, a doubles match on Saturday, and two reverse singles matches on Sunday.
The USTA limited tickets to the lower bowl when the U.S. beat India in a relegation match in 2001, in the only previous Davis Cup tie at Joel Coliseum.
From the time that Winston-Salem was selected as the host for the quarterfinals, Don Flow, the chairman of the Winston-Salem Organizing Committee, pushed the USTA to sell tickets to the upper deck, too. When a USTA pre-sale last week sold out in four hours and then the public sale started strong yesterday, the decision was made to offer upper-deck tickets at $90 and $60, and the $90 seats quickly sold out.
"Don has said he wants to make a statement to the USTA and show everyone that Winston-Salem can support major events in a big way, and he's done that and then some," Ryan said.
This will be the first meeting between the nations since Spain beat the U.S. in the 2004 Davis Cup final in Seville, Spain. More than 27,000 attended that tie daily.
"The last time we were in Spain, there were 27,000 people there a day," Ryan said. "I think Don knows that, recognizes that, and in his own way, realizing the capacity limitations of Joel Coliseum, wants to go sell that out and say, 'See, we can do the same thing you can.' It may not be the same number on a piece of paper, but the statement is, we can sell out a big facility for our neck of the woods in this country, and we can support our U.S. team."
Tickets will remain on sale until the arena is sold out.
They can still be ordered at the Joel Coliseum box office or by calling 1-888-484-8782. The USTA does not determine specific seat locations at the time of purchase, and mails tickets at a later date.
The USTA has traditionally put single-session tickets on sale if any three-day books go unsold, but that is not in the works yet.
"We haven't even discussed that yet," Dame said. "In 2001, we didn't even think about that until a week or two before the matches. Obviously, if we sell out the three-day books, there won't be any single-day sales."
• John Delong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org