ATP player representative Justin Gimelstob as well as the WTA are hopeful that the stalemate over prize money between the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and the ATP Board of Directors will be resolved soon.
“The process thus far regarding Indian Wells' prize money has been disappointing,” Gimelstob told TENNIS.com. “The player side has always believed that prize money supplements above the minimum requirements are good for our sport, especially in the case of the Indian Wells proposal in which every player in every round is making above the required minimum. Tennis is in an incredible place right now and investment in the sport should be embraced. The reality is I have every belief that this will work itself out, logic and fairness will prevail, and Indian Wells and their generous offer will not only be accepted, but met with a long over due thank you.”
Indian Wells is prepared to drop its prize money back to 2011 levels if the ATP Board of Directors does not approve its prize money increase for its 2013 edition, which begins on March 4. In December, the ATP Tour Board of Directors voted to a 3-3 deadlock over a proposal by Indian Wells to increase its prize money by at least $1.6 million ($800,000 would also go to WTA players), and to distribute most of it to the winners of the first three rounds.
Total Prize money for tournament in 2012 was $5.5 million, which would mean that the increase for 2013 is at least 29 percent and is 20 percent above that what is minimally required (9 percent a year).
Tournament CEO Raymond Moore told TENNIS.com that both the ATP and WTA Players’ Councils as well as the WTA Board of Directors voted unanimously in favor of the increase, but that it is being opposed by tournament directors on the ATP board: Mark Webster, Gavin Forbes and Charles Smith. ATP CEO Brad
Drewett abstained from the vote in December, but then the ATP released a statement to TENNIS.com opposing the Indian Wells proposal.
All three player representatives on the Board of Directors — Gimelstob, David Edges and Giorgio di Palmero — voted in favor of the proposal. Moore has said that the opposition to the increase is political as Webster, whom he said is leading the charge, does not want to see the players become too powerful.
Moore said that the Miami Masters Series tournament — which is owned by IMG — supports the increase, but Forbes, who works for IMG, did not vote for it because he promised Webster that he votes in line with the rest for the tournament reps. Forbes – who is the ATP tournament representative for the Americas — used to be involved with the Indian Wells tournament when IMG had a 50 percent stake in it. In 2006, Forbes and other execs were negotiating Indian Wells' sale to Shanghai or Doha before American investors stepped in, bought IMG's share of the tournament and kept it in the United States.
Other sources have said that Miami is not happy with Indian Wells' overall increase because it does not want to have to match it (Indian Wells already paid out $700,000 more prize money than Miami in 2012).
“I personally think Gavin made a mistake and I said that to his face, but I think he’s entirely sympathetic to us,” Moore said.
The ATP administration is also opposing Moore’s formula that is an 82-18 percent split between singles and doubles prize money. The ATP wants the tournament to retain an 80-20 split.
WTA spokesman Andrew Walker told TENNIS.com that the WTA Board and administration “remain hopeful that the tournament and the ATP are able to successfully resolve the matter.”
The ATP Board of Directors is supposed to have a new vote on the matter this coming week.