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By Chris Oddo | Monday December 11, 2017

Bank of the West Classic

One of the gems of the summer hardcourt season is being forced to move from its longtime home.

Photo Source: AP

One of the longest-standing women’s tennis events in the U.S. is in trouble. The Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California will no longer be held at Stanford University, tournament operators IMG announced last week.

Stanford University has elected not to offer a contract to the tournament due to a new policy of not hosting any commercial sporting events on campus.

According to Inside Tennis, this isn’t the whole story. Reportedly the tournament saw it’s rent tripled by Stanford before last year’s event. Here’s what Bill Simons reported.

Simply put, the tournament is a jewel. Yet earlier this year Stanford tripled the six-figure rent it was charging. The tourney’s owner, the Cleveland-based sports agency IMG, bristled, but eventually agreed. The Bank of the West’s parent company, BNP Paribas, told it to redirect the sponsorship funds it had for Stanford into BNP’s Indian Wells extravaganza. But, after much gnashing and grinding, the Bank of the West changed its mind and agreed to again sponsor the tourney, a Middle East investment firm that was coming to San Francisco and wanted to make a splash. A ready-to-be-signed contract for 2018 was sent to Stanford. But, despite the wishes of Stanford tennis and Stanford athletics, the university ultimately refused to budge from its puzzling, counterproductive edict that no commercial entity could sponsor a campus event.

The event will search for a new California home for 2018, but it is clearly in danger of going the way of other events held in California, such as ATP San Jose and Los Angeles and WTA Carlsbad.

The tournament has long been host to the top players in women’s tennis since finding a home at Stanford, including Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters, Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis, Maria Sharapova and countless others. It also became a proving ground for Stanford’s top NCAA players, who frequently received wild cards to the event.

According to Inside Tennis, IMG has had talks with San Jose State as well as other clubs in the area and on the east coast.

In the meantime, WTA players who loved playing the event are not pleased.

Stay tuned. The tournament remains on the WTA calendar, and is set to take place from July 30 to August 5 of 2018.


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