THE Lawn Tennis Association ‘expects no loss in audience for Eastbourne’ after it is downgraded.

That’s what they have told our MP.

Caroline Ansell said: “We were told that following the same reduction in ranking points in Birmingham, ticket sales were unaffected and that the Birmingham tournament did better with attendance in 2023 when it was a 250 event over when it was a 500 level in 2019. Based on this, they expect no loss in audience for Eastbourne either, adding that 90% of tickets typically being sold before players are announced.

I’m not too sure about this last point – the public have been buying tickets with a pretty solid expectation there would be top players and I can’t see how media coverage or sponsorship can be anything less than hit. Eastbourne is watched by 20 million globally, putting our town truly on the map. 

It has been reported that the LTA see greater commercial advantage to moving the women’s 500 to Queens and there has been a run of commentary on why that is the case but it is essentially about numbers. Our courts are world class and award winning. Our setting is beautiful, intimate and loved by players and spectators but total spectator capacity admissions at Eastbourne in 2023 were 60% of those at Queens. The difference in Centre court capacities is respectively 6k to 10k.

I am looking forward to a star-studded tournament this season. The LTA told us we can anticipate enhanced catering provision and some innovations in the town centre to boost the fan experience. They are further investing in player facilities too which is all to the good.  

And the LTA states they are fully committed to maintaining a combined men’s and women’s tour level event at Eastbourne in all scenarios.

I will keep making the case for top level sporting events to be hosted in all parts of the country and we need to keep talking up Eastbourne – for tennis, and as a top visitor destination in its own right. It’s important.”