WASHINGTON, D.C. – Washington, D.C.-based venture capitalist, entrepreneur and
civic leader Mark Ein today announced that the Citi Open tournament will remain in Washington, D.C., after closing a deal to acquire the management rights of the Citi Open from the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF), a non-profit which provides free tennis and educational programs for children in under-served communities.
After a six-month bidding process that attracted worldwide interest, Ein emerged as the clear choice to take over the tournament with his commitment to keeping the event in the USA's capital and providing ongoing support for the tournament’s charity, the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation. As part of the agreement, Ein made a significant financial contribution and substantial future financial commitments that will enable WTEF to build its endowment to further the charity’s mission and ensure its financial future as part of the agreement. The WTEF and their programming will continue to benefit from the Citi Open and be featured prominently throughout the weeklong event as the primary charitable partner and beneficiary. The tournament is one of the WTEF’s biggest annual fundraisers and has raised millions for youth programs since it was founded in 1969.
“I grew up with this tournament and I know first-hand the profound impact it can have on individuals like myself and on our community more broadly, so I am thrilled that we were able to come to an agreement to keep this very special event here in Washington,” said Ein.
“This is an iconic tournament on the world stage that has been woven into the fabric of our local community across many generations. I am grateful to the board and leadership of WTEF for working with me to keep the event here, and we now need the continued engagement of the NPS, city leadership and our business and tennis communities to make sure this tournament remains in the District for future generations to enjoy.”“It wouldn’t be summer in the sports capital without the Citi Open,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “For 50 years, Washingtonians have gathered to watch the top tennis players compete at the Rock Creek Park, and over time, DC has transformed into a town where young athletes can not only play top-level tennis, but also thrive in it. We are grateful for Mark Ein’s leadership and look forward to many more years of hosting the Citi Open in Washington.”
“After 50 years of tradition, I am thrilled to be keeping this important event in our community especially for our children who benefit immensely from it. With the hard work of our organization and new management, I’m confident the best versions of this tournament are forthcoming,” said Manny Ortiz, WTEF Board Chair.
“Ward 4 has hosted world-class tennis at Rock Creek Park for half a century, and I am delighted that this time-honored tradition will continue,” said Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd. “We are so appreciative of Mark Ein’s investment and belief in our community and the beloved Citi Open tennis tournament.”
“No one is more passionate than Mark Ein for the sport of tennis and for his local community," said USTA CEO and Executive Director Gordon Smith. "These passions have combined to ensure the future of professional tennis will thrive in Washington, D.C. His leadership truly makes a difference and of course we are thrilled to welcome the Citi Open back into the US Open Series."
Washington is one of the five largest tennis events in the United States and one of only five tour events featuring players from both the ATP and WTA Tours competing simultaneously. After fifty years, it is also the longest running pro tennis event at the same site in the United States.
The WTA event, which was added in 2012 as a WTA International level tournament, has boasted singles champions that include Sloane Stephens and defending titlist Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Ein formerly served on the Board of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) from 2012-2018 (serving as a Vice President of the Board from 2016-2018) and is currently a Presidential Appointee to the USTA Board as well as on the Board of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Mid-Atlantic Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012.
The transfer of management to Ein comes at a pivotal moment for this tournament, which marked its 50th anniversary last summer. The tournament will continue to be played at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center, which is owned and operated by the National Park Service and its concessionaire, Guest Services, Inc.
Ein says the first priority will be to address much-needed facility updates for the half-century-old stadium and grounds that are needed to secure the long-term future of the tournament at this site and for the city. He has already engaged NPS and government officials to solidify plans that would not only raise the profile of the tournament but would renovate and modernize the facility as well as benefit its community members in Ward 4 and surrounding neighborhoods on a year-round basis.
In the immediate future, Ein looks to enhance the overall fan experience including significantly upgraded food and beverage offerings, improved grounds, new hospitality areas available to all fans, better parking and ride-sharing logistics, on-site entertainment and complementary activities such as pickle-ball showcases and upgraded merchandise. In appreciation to the fans that have helped build the event over decades, the new team also has announced that season ticket prices will not increase in 2019.
“We have big plans for this tournament, all centered on making the Citi Open an unmatched
experience that will appeal to and be affordable for all Washingtonians making it THE place to be for each of those nine days and nights in D.C.,” said Ein.
With regard to the player experience, Ein added “We are committed to making this one of the most player-friendly tournaments on tour with new concierge and player services that will significantly enhance the athletes’ overall experience while playing in the event and being in Washington, D.C., one of the most popular tourist and visitor destinations in world.”
Leading up to his official management control of the tournament, Ein has already negotiated an extension of Citi’s title sponsorship agreement through the 2019 event. The global banking leader has been involved with the Washington tournament since 2012.
The tournament will return to the United States Tennis Association’s US Open Series for the first time since 2014 pending ATP Board approval. Citi Open, which is home to the only ATP 500 tournament in the U.S. and one of only 13 around the world, rejoins the summer hard-court swing of men’s and women’s tournaments leading up to the US Open. The US Open Series provides a centralized promotional platform for the sport in North America, showcasing the best players in the world as they compete throughout the U.S. and Canada. Other US Open Series cities include: Atlanta (ATP), San Jose (WTA), Toronto (WTA), Montreal (ATP), Cincinnati (ATP/WTA), Winston-Salem (ATP).
The 2019 Citi Open tournament runs from July 27 to August 4.