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The Tennis Channel Buys ATP Tour Stop

LOS ANGELES, February 16, 2005

THE TENNIS CHANNEL BUYS SCOTTSDALE ATP TOUR STOP

2005 Event to be “Tennis Channel Open”

Network Synergizes Multiple Tennis-related Business Opportunities with Acquisition

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 16, 2005 – The Tennis Channel, a cable television network devoted to tennis and other racquet sports, has reached an agreement to purchase the ATP tennis tournament based in Scottsdale, Ariz., from Scottsdale Tournament Productions, whose managing partner is IMG, the world’s largest sports marketing and management agency.  IMG will manage and operate this year’s event Feb. 21-27, which will be titled “Tennis Channel Open.”  Starting with the 2006 tournament, the network will assume all managerial and operational responsibilities for the venerable annual competition, which has played host to most of the game’s greatest stars, including John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick.  The announcement was made today by Steve Bellamy, president and founder, The Tennis Channel, and Gavin Forbes, IMG senior vice president.

“Owning the tournament will permit the network to continue its aggressive promotion of the sport by presenting it like no other,” said Bellamy.  The Tennis Channel has had programming rights to the tournament since 2002, and this year will telecast more than 40 hours of play, including singles and doubles quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.

“This acquisition affords The Tennis Channel the ability to create an integrated marketing platform that, when married to the television business, creates vertical opportunities and synergies in sponsorship, advertising, distribution, as well as programming possibilities never before contemplated and enhanced benefits to ticket buyers and fans,” Bellamy continued.  “This move shoots straight at the core of our mission, which is to repackage the way the game is presented and promoted.”

“This sale is a mutually beneficial way to advance our business relationship with The Tennis Channel, which started in August 2001 when the concept was first unveiled at the US Open,” said IMG’s Forbes.  “The Tennis Channel is great for the game.  It is a natural evolution for them to be directly responsible for contributing to the growth and success of the ATP tour, and pro tennis in Arizona.  We are committed to helping The Tennis Channel continue to prosper.”

Founded in 1986, the Scottsdale ATP tour stop takes place at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess hotel.  The venue has played host to a series of Grand Slam champions and tennis household names during the past 18 years, and this years’ field already has many stars committed including:  Tommy Haas, James Blake, Mark Philippoussis, Taylor Dent, top doubles squad Bob and Mike Bryan (“The Bryan Bros.”), and the returning 2004 champion, Vince Spadea, with additional entrants to be announced shortly.

“IMG and the tournament organizers have done a great job of making this event one of the crown jewels of the ATP tour, and we look forward to building upon their success by adding the marketing and promotional power of television to the equation,” said Bellamy.

The event is usually held the week immediately prior to the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells.  Such timing, a similar surface and climate, and driving proximity to Indian Wells have traditionally positioned Scottsdale as the perfect warm-up for the Pacific Life Open, which is one of the top six tennis events in the world and features a player draw nearly identical to the sport’s four Grand Slam tournaments. 

IMG was founded by Mark H. McCormack in the early 1960s.  The company is the world's premier sports and lifestyle management and marketing firm, with an international staff of more than 2,200 people in 70 offices in 30 countries.  TWI, IMG’s television division, is the largest independent distributor and producer of televised sports, managing a library of more than 150,000 hours.  TWI annually produces and distributes 6,500 hours of original programming to more than 200 countries covering 200+ sports, as well as being a global leader in digital sports and entertainment.  IMG is also commercially involved in an average of 11 major sports and cultural events around the world every day; IMG Consulting works with many of the world's largest corporations on marketing and sponsorship programs; IMG’s stadium and arena group works with leagues and franchises worldwide; IMG is the world's largest non-character licensing firm, and is a leading literary agency and book packager.  In addition, IMG Models is the world's number one international model management firm, IMG owns and operates top sports and fitness academies, and IMG Artists is the top global performing arts management firm. 

IMG’s clients include Charles Barkley, James Brown, Jennifer Capriati, Vince Carter, Bob Costas, Ernie Els, Chris Evert, Sergei Fedorov, Renée Fleming, Sergio Garcia, Gisele, Reteif Goosen, Jeff Gordon, the GRAMMYS®, Denny Green, Scott Hamilton, Elizabeth Hurley, Jaromir Jagr, Derek Jeter, Nancy Lopez, John Madden, Major League Baseball, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Steve Mariucci, John McEnroe, Joe Montana, Kate Moss, Jim Nantz, Jack Nicklaus, The Nobel Foundation, Olympus New York Fashion Week, Arnold Palmer, Itzhak Perlman, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Pete Sampras, Marty Schottenheimer, Maria Sharapova, Michael Schumacher, Vijay Singh, Annika Sorenstam, Picabo Street, Liv Tyler, USGA, the U.S. Olympic Committee, Dick Vitale, Bill Walton, Wembley National Stadium, Venus Williams, Wimbledon and Tiger Woods.

The Tennis Channel (www.thetennischannel.com ) is the cable television network devoted to tennis and other racquet sports, and provides unparalleled coverage of the game, its elite championships and its superstar athletes. The network’s comprehensive coverage includes telecasts of the US Open Series, ATP Masters Series, top-tier WTA Tour championship competitions, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, Fed Cup and Hyundai Hopman Cup. The Tennis Channel also showcases instruction from the finest teachers, legendary matches, in-depth profiles of the greatest players, analysis and news, the latest on equipment, and tennis getaways.

For Further information:
Eric Abner, Tennis Channel, 310-314-9445 or eabner@tennischannel.com