September 28, 2023

Open Court


Boston (and Montreal) potential Laver Cup sites


The Laver Cup was to take place this weekend in Boston - but it was cancelled because of the pandemic. The event went ahead and announced the next year's venue anyway, as it would had the event been going on.

After an eagle-eyed spot by tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg of some otherwise unrelated photos on the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs Twitter feed, the news was “announced” on various tennis websites (and stated as fact on social media) that the city of Boston would be hosting the next “world” edition of the Laver Cup exhibition event.

It’s already everywhere.

There’s only one problem: it’s not true.

At least, not yet.

The photos certainly are irrefutable evidence that the city is a candidate to host the event in 2020.

But the decision reportedly has not yet been made. Laver Cup CEO Steve Zacks (via a spokesperson) told Tennis.Life the decision won’t be announced for several months.

“As we do each year, we are conducting site inspections at several venues for the Laver Cup in 2020 and Boston certainly made us very welcome,” Zacks said in a statement.

“Following the success in Chicago last year there is a lot of excitement and interest from a number of ‘rest of the world’ cities and we will announce our decision in the next few months.”

And this week, a little twist:

This year’s edition will be held in a “Team Europe” home site, in Roger Federer country in Geneva, Switzerland.

The inaugural edition in 2017 took place in Prague. Then the hosts flipped to the city of Chicago in 2018. 

So in 2020, it’s the “rest of the world’s” turn once again.

Originally, the Laver Cup had planned to take a break during Olympic years. The top players already scramble to squeeze that into a jammed summer schedule. But the success of the inaugural event led to a change of heart.

Australia? Indian Wells? Maybe some day

You would think the fact that Tennis Australia has a stake in the event means the “world” host venues will be spread around the … rest of the world. Including Australia, which could host it indoors at Rod Laver Arena during the Aussie late winter.

The problem with that, of course, is that the event is held right after the US Open. To get commitments from the marquee players to head to, say, Argentina, or a city in Australia – or even Asia – would be a challenge.

Even with the amount of money on offer.

To then head to Asia for the fall swing is another big trek, and another logistical issue.

Laver Cup likes to make a splash

Anointing Boston the 2020 winner based on the circumstantial evidence would have meant the Laver Cup organization had suffered a severe communications breakdown.

The winning venue spilling the beans in such a random way – and not even to tennis fans – would have been somewhat embarrassing for all concerned.

Of course, you never know.

But it’s such a painstakingly orchestrated event, with so much money at stake, that almost nothing is left to chance.

The Laver Cup has already established a fairly comprehensive advance promotional plan to hype the event well before it gets to its destination.

Prague promo began in 2016

Photo: Ben Solomon – Laver Cup

The inaugural Laver Cup in Prague was announced just before the 2016 US Open – more than a year in advance. A press conference in Manhattan featured its namesake, along with Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The announcement that the 2018 edition would be held in Chicago came the day of the 2017 final in Prague.

There also was a press conference in Chicago featuring the mayor

Prior to the Chicago event, Federer made a pit stop on the way from Indian Wells to Miami to whip up interest. He brought Nick Kyrgios, John McEnroe and Laver with him.

And about a month before the Chicago event, they held another press conference (in New York) to announce the final roster.

Federer and Borg in Geneva

For 2019, the Geneva announcement came just before last year’s US Open

In February, newly-crowned Australian Open champion Federer touched down in the city along with Bjorn Borg. The promotional event coincided with the tickets going on sale. 

They sold out in a couple of hours.

As a candidate, Boston had come up last year, before Chicago ultimately won out.

Both cities have as an advantage their proximity to New York, site of the US Open.

But fans make a valid point when they opine that the “World” hosts should be spread around as the European events are (even if the “World” territory is spread out over a significantly greater area).

But money, as it always is, will be the ultimate decider. And as much of a success as the Laver Cup has been in its first two editions, there has been a lot of money invested in starting it up that hasn’t been recouped yet.

It remains reliant on significant financial input from the hosts – whether it’s the wealthy USTA in the U.S., or from some other source.

Perhaps after a few more equally successful years, it can afford to take a relatively bigger risk on a site that might turn off the biggest stars.

As well, Federer is not going to play forever. And his presence and willingness to promote it (he does have a stake, after all) is a big part of its early success.

We’ll see in years to come.

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