Ateed's support of Auckland's ASB Tennis Classic is a joke.

The WTA and ATP tournaments have been the country's premier annual international sporting events for decades yet have attracted pitiful support from Auckland Council's Tourism and Economic Event Development arm.

In the past few years the tournaments have gone from strength to strength. Next year's women's Classic has assembled the highest profile lineup ever seen for an annual international sporting event in this country with the legendary Williams sisters headed by 22 times Grand Slam singles champion Serena, the major drawcard.

January's women's tournament will have four of the highest paid women's athletes on the planet in Auckland during the same week with the Williams sisters, Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic.


Over the years Ateed has pour in millions of dollars to sporting events such as the Volvo Ocean Race stopover, the Supercars, Netball Fast Five and the NRL Nine's but last year it contributed just $175,000 into the ASB Classic and that amount hasn't changed for 2017.

The tournament's attract near capacity crowds of 3500 every day; that's 40,000 people over the fortnight with a good proportion of fans travelling from outside the Auckland region. There is no other sporting event in New Zealand which has the television reach of the Classic that showcases Auckland to the world, and that's a key criteria in attracting funding.

With both Williams sisters here it would be surprising if television viewership internationally doesn't reach levels not seen here before.

I've heard arguments around the traps that the tournaments are already successful without any more local body or national government support, and while that's true to a point, imagine what tournament director Karl Budge could do with a few extra hundred thousand dollars.

They would have more ability to make it more accessible to Aucklanders by putting on live sites and playing exhibitions in the street, not to mention a better chance of securing the likes of a Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal.

Each summer I see banners on lamp posts driving in from the airport promoting the NRL Nines, yet driving around Auckland around New Year you simply wouldn't know top class international tennis is coming to the city.

As a sporting event the ASB Classic tournaments are second to none in terms of their engagement with the fans and sponsors and they regularly win tour awards for best international tournaments, voted by the players.

The tennis tournaments are iconic international events on Auckland's calendar and should at least attract the sort of support other sporting events in the region do from Ateed.