New Haven Open preparations are under way [New Haven Register, Conn. :: ]
(New Haven Register (CT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 07--NEW HAVEN -- The staff began to settle in after making the shift from its Chapel Street office to the Connecticut Tennis Center.
It's the annual move that marks the end of the calm before the 2 1/2 -- month storm that is putting together the New Haven Open.
"I tell everyone to enjoy Memorial Day weekend, because that's it," tournament director Anne Worcester said.
The tournament staff had a welcome meeting with three of this summer's interns early last week. There is a full-time staff of 10, but that number will soon swell to close to 500, including all those who will work at the tournament (television production, catering, transportation and others).
The staff is now working on marketing campaigns, securing building permits and monitoring ticket sales for its Legends Event featuring former greats Andy Roddick, Jim Courier and James Blake. The list goes on.
This is just the beginning stage of the chaos.
"It's an exciting time," said Megan Axtell, ticket sales and marketing manager. "This is when it starts to kick in high gear for us. It's a nice reminder about how close the tourney is."
There are many different faces behind the scenes that play a hand in this event coming together.
From tents and bleachers to cleaning and trailers, operations manager Lucas Bohr is touching base with the 30-plus vendors and finalizing contracts. He also oversees the CTC's day-to-day operations, so he has to make sure the HVAC system, plumbing and electrical are intact.
Special events manager and Market New Haven marketing manager Bruno Baggetta is pushing to build the city brand. Now he is working on bids for a shuttle company which will provide transportation to downtown New Haven for spectators throughout the tournament.
With individual tickets going on sale Monday, Axtell is working closely with the Miami-based IMG Tickets, the tournament's ticket sales company. Axtell and other staff members are putting the finishing touches on this year's ticket brochure. After some final edits, tweaks and revisions, it's ready to go. Axtell explains the cover will feature four-time champion Caroline Wozniacki, rising star Eugenie Bouchard and French Open finalist and NHO defending champion Simona Halep, all who have committed to play in this year's tournament.
"That's a big project, but a fun project," Axtell said.
On the sponsorship side, many are coming down for site tours. The sponsorship team is working with sponsors on activation, interactive booths and signage. Sponsor service manager Rachel Glasser said the tournament has close to 60 sponsors it's working with, from cornerstones to regional sponsors.
"When June 1 hits, everyone is going 100 miles per hour," Glasser said. "It's a great problem to have. It's by far my favorite time of year."
Christie Cole is working with local tennis clubs to build relationships and push the tournament. She also recently helped coordinate the tournament's free lesson for city youth, featuring Blake.
Meanwhile, Worcester has a role in just about everything. She still hasn't had a chance to unpack her bulletin boards from her Chapel Street office and has plans to go through the sample player gift bag that's nearby.
Of course, she has to put together a strong player field, too. She looks over French Open scores on her iPad and checks out her color-coded list of players. She will constantly reach out to players and their agents via text, social media and email.
Worcester explains how the New Haven Open is planning to honor both the UConn men's and women's national championship basketball teams during the tournament, and is making a big push to sell the Legends Event. She is also helping to finalize sponsorship contracts. Worcester mentions there is still a possibility or two for a six-figure deal. There are negotiations about signage, hospitality and activation.
But there is still a ton to be done. This is only the beginning.
It's getting busy," Worcester said. "It's all happening."
Editor's Note: This was the first of a month-by-month look at how the New Haven Open comes together.
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