Oct 15, 2009 at 01:12 PM
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A Strange Deal Gets Stranger

One sponsorship deal, among many, that never materialized this year was W Sports Marketing's sale of title rights to a pro-am tennis exhibition called the Grand Slam of Asheville at the Asheville, North Carolina Civic Center on August 28th. The opportunity, you may remember, garnered some last minute headlines when W Sports Marketing made an unusual offer - saying they would only ask for payment on the $75,000 sponsorship opportunity if and when the Dow hit 10,000.

Brian Woods, president of W Sports Marketing, told Darren Rovell at the time:

“It’s obviously tough to sell sponsorships in this environment. So many companies have told me they would have done this if the time were right. So this is the only way to go.”

At the time seemed like a clever last minute gimmick with less than a month before the event that game theorists would have said may have added a small incentive based on the basic financial principle of the time value of money. Theoretically, since a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow, the longer the $75K payment was delayed (or the Dow was under 10K), the better deal a sponsor would have gotten on paper. Unfortunately, sponsors aren't economists - and the stock exchange kept rising closer to 10,000 as the event date approached, mitigating the "sweetener." No title sponsor was found.

The event went on with a couple changes to the line-up, which still included names like Andre Agassi, Marat Safin and Ashley Harkleroad, a reduced ticket price to stimulate demand.

Which leads us to yesterday, when the Dow closed at 10,015, the first time above 10,000 in more than a year and about a month in a half after the event. That comes one day after Woods was "charged with a felony issuance of a worthless check to a pro tennis player," according to the Asheville Citizen-Times. The article says that Harkleroad has only been paid half of the appearance fee that was agreed to.

“I contacted them and told them I would get the money to them as soon as possible, but I couldn't work out anything because they started making threats," Woods said.

Woods says he hopes to work out a deal with prosecutors.

“Financially, it didn't end up very well, but I'm a law-abiding citizen who didn't intentionally do anything wrong,” Woods told the paper.

photo: Richard Drew/AP