NEW YORK – (Staff report by Terry Lyons) – After staging successful promotional events in the likes of Beijing and Shanghai in 2012 and Rio in 2015, the organizers of The French Open decided to go big, as in very big, when they booked space in lower Manhattan and staged Roland-Garros in the City this week. The mission was to heighten awareness of the world’s greatest clay court tennis tournament while promoting the event staged in one, if not the, world’s most beautiful city – Paris, France.
The promotional event was created by the Federation Française de Tennis (French Tennis Federation), organizers of the world’s premier clay court event, Roland-Garros (known as The French Open to most American tennis fans), in partnership with Longines, the Swiss watch brand, and sport-fasion brand, Lacoste, New Yorkers experienced the look and feel of The French Open in Paris at the Brookfield Place Waterfront Plaza in Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City. “Roland-Garros in the City” also piped-in a live transmission of the men’s and women’s semi-finals and finals on a big screen in the Plaza, free for all to watch. A real, full size red clay court in the tradition of Roland-Garros will be the focal point, providing free classes and recreation for the general public. Lead Dog marketing helped carry-out the logistics.
Roland-Garros in the City in NYC
“We’re here to promote Roland-Garros, of course,” said Lucas Dubourg of the French Tennis Federation. “We wanted to show the tennis fans of New York the “Red Clay,” the very D.N.A. of Roland-Garros. We wanted them to experience the event and we’ve been very impressed with the crowds, the thousands of people who came out during their lunch hour to watch the matches. They’re very enthusiastic,” he added, noting earlier in the week the organizers were quite concerned with the cold, damp and unpredictable spring weather.
“The view is impressive, with lower Manhattan to our south and the Hudson River to the west. It’s quite a setting. Wow!”
Debourg said the French Federation planned their event with the assistance and encouragement of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), and they began planning at last year’s U.S. Open in September. He said they were very happy with their promotion and that most fans enthusiastically embraced the very “Red Clay” they’d seen dozens of times on TV. The FFT ran similar events in China after the 2008 Olympic Games and prior to the 2016 Games in Rio, but NYC was the next logical step to help promote tourism in Paris for future French Open tournaments.
To help get the buzz going, as only New Yorkers can do, local organizers brought in Luann and Tom D’Agostino of the reality show “Real Housewives of NYC,” and they helped by hitting ceremonial first serves on the gorgeous red clay court which drew the TV crews, paparazzi and curiosity-seeking New Yorkers out for lunch in the area.
Dubourg was happy with the results but thought it would be months before the French Federation took stock in the results to help decide whether they’d be back for “Roland-Garros in the City II.” And, who knows, maybe they’ll be piping in the tennis matches from the 2024 Olympic Games before long.
What do we think?