NYC Comptroller Says U.S. Open Organizer Owes $300K In Rent
The nation's premier tennis tournament may have committed a foot fault before any matches have begun.
New York City is accusing the United States Tennis Association, which runs the upcoming U.S. Open major tennis tournament, of underreporting revenue, and therefore underpaying rent.
Comptroller Scott Stringer says the city is owed $311K in back rent for the association’s use of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, The New York Times reports.
The city’s parks department leases the site to the USTA for $400K a year, plus 1% of gross revenue beyond the first $20M. But the comptroller and his office are saying the National Tennis Center has failed to report some $11.5M in revenue generated by sponsorship deals and broadcasting rights, as well as deducting more than $10M in operating expenses and inaccurate accounting of online sales.
All told, the comptroller said at least $31M in revenue hasn't been reported over the last four years and the city is owed $311K in rent.
Stringer wants the lease, which has been in place since 1993, renegotiated. He also said the association blocked the audit.
“The USTA’s misreporting and underpayments cannot be shrugged off or swept under the rug,” Stringer said, per the Times. “The USTA's lease agreement allows the USTA to refuse to give us records in electronic forms. So we couldn’t even look at the financial records electronically. It’s 2019, and they would not give us anything electronically.”
However, National Tennis Center Chief Operating Officer Danny Zausner told the Times there was no need for a new lease deal, disputed many findings in the audit and said that 40% of the disputed amount had already been paid.
“We are a tenant of the city and we’ve been a good tenant for 40 years,” Zausner told the newspaper. "Things come down to interpretations sometimes, and we make our rent payments according to interpretation of the lease as we see it.”
Stringer made these demands public on the eve of the tournament, where qualifying play has already begun. The main tournament starts next week.