Johan Cruyff Institute brings together Marco Chessa, president of the Permanent Council Commission of the City of Turin, and Giorgio Di Palermo, director of international events at the Italian Tennis Federation, to discuss the benefits of hosting the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin and the transformative power of sport for an entire territory
The city of Turin has been selected to host the Nitto ATP Finals between 2021 and 2025. Its candidacy convinced the ATP, the world’s top professional tennis body, to move the finals to this city after 12 years in a row in London. It was a joint effort by the Italian Tennis Federation, the City of Turin, the Piedmont region and the Italian government. Over the next five years, the eight best players of the season and the eight best doubles teams will head to Turin for the ATP Finals, the most exciting and prestigious tournament of the year, along with the four Grand Slams (Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open).
Tennis lovers will not be the only ones to benefit from what is the most followed spectacle of the entire ATP circuit, the only tournament that guarantees 15 matches between the eight best players in the world. The event will once again be a boost for the entire territory and will be another example of the transformative power of sport in multiple aspects. The city of Turin experienced a first great metamorphosis in 2006, with the celebration of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, and since then, it has not stopped living sport: the Volleyball World Cup 2018, European Master Games 2019 and ISU Skating GP Finals 2019 are just some examples of the great events recently hosted by this city, the cradle of motor racing for over a century thanks to the presence of the FIAT production plant.
In an interesting webinar, Johan Cruyff Institute brought together two of the people who have worked on the planning and upcoming celebration of the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin: Marco Chessa, president of the Permanent Council Commission of the City of Turin, and Giorgio Di Palermo, director of international events at the Italian Tennis Federation. Both discussed the benefits and the cross-cutting nature of a major sporting event to generate wealth at all levels.
“Thanks to the organization of the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games in 2006, Turin had the opportunity to show the world its transition from an industrial city to a smart city. These events left us with a fantastic legacy” – Marco Chessa
“Thanks to the organization of the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games in 2006, Turin had the opportunity to show the world its transition from an industrial city to a smart city. These events left us with a fantastic legacy, including new, largerer-capacity facilities, a major economic impact, new investments, urban transformations and new types of tourism. It also generated a more intangible, but equally valuable, impact, such as a change in citizens’ habits, with a much more global approach,” says Marco Chessa, who is responsible for the strategic and budgetary planning of all major sporting events in the city of Turin.
Turin’s Pala Alpitour, the largest indoor sports facility in Italy with a capacity of 18,500 spectators, will be the nerve center of the event that will be held from November 14 to 21, 2021. For half a year now, residents and visitors to the city have been aware of the event thanks to the many highly visible branded exhibitions spread across the city. Not for nothing will Turin host the ATP Finals in Italy for the first time in its 50-year history, making the transalpine city the 15th city to host the prestigious end-of-season tennis tournament since 1970.
“The Nitto ATP Finals was a great opportunity for the Italian Tennis Federation. London has been an incredible venue for the past years and we are convinced that the city of Turin will be an exceptional complement to this great event that has been previously hosted by major cities such as Paris, New York, Shanghai, Sydney and London, to name just a few,” assures Giorgio Di Palermo.
The objectives of the candidacy:
- The vision: to unite the cultural and sporting experience with Italian beauty and creativity in order to elevate, through tennis, the entertainment experience to a higher level.
- The mission: to establish a new reference model in sport and entertainment, highlighting the educational and integrating power of sport for society.
- The values: values such as sustainability, education, respect, innovation, accessibility and a forward-looking attitude will be reflected in the event.
The five-year strategic plan
The Italian Federation, together with the sports council of the City of Turin, started to draw up its strategic plan at the end of 2020, projecting not only the first edition in 2021, but considering the Nitto ATP Finals as a five-year multi-event. “We don’t want to organize this big event as a series of five separate events, we are going to make sure that all promotions and communications respond to the plan drawn up for five years, with sustainability being one of the most important pillars. The event must be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable, offering new development opportunities for the territory and its people,” says the federation’s president.
Turin is the third largest tourist destination for the Italian market, behind Rome and Venice, and this is “an incredible opportunity to show Turin to the world as one of the most beautiful and culturally rich destinations in Italy”. The city was the country’s first capital and its iconic architecture, more oriented to the European model, is still underrated. “Turin is one of the greatest exponents of industrial innovation of the Italian Renaissance and there is no other place in the world where tradition and innovation have been integrated so efficiently,” recalls Marco Chessa.
“The strategic plan has been projected as a five-year multi-event. It must be environmentally, economically and socially sustainable, offering new development opportunities for the territory and its people” – Giorgio Di Palermo
The Italian Tennis Federation also wants to take advantage of this great sporting event to continue accompanying its promising young players on the road to professionalization. “The Federation has led the growth of tennis in the country in the last 10 years through organizing tournaments, activities for clubs and tennis schools, while also benefiting the players themselves to the point of being able to proudly say that 10% of the players who are part of the ATP professional circuit are Italian. So, the value of organizing the Nitto ATP Finals in our territory is immense,” says Giorgio Di Palermo.
Players such as Matteo Berretini, ninth in the ATP ranking, Jannik Sinner, who has reached the top 20 in the world at the age of 19, and Lorenzo Sonego, 28th in the ATP ranking, are currently the top exponents of the resurgence of Italian tennis and, “although the bid to host the Nitto ATP Finals predated their foray among the ATP’s best, we must continue to think about the future and are convinced that events of this nature are a great boost for our sport. The plan is to attract new players through the federation. We currently have 400,000 members and we aim to double that number by 2025 to at least 800,000,” explains Di Palermo.
The city council will also contribute to this, “with a plan created to promote tennis in schools, a project that will start next July, a little later than planned as a result of Covid,” says Marco Chessa.
“We have inherited an event that is already innovative in terms of television production and content marketing by the ATP, but there will be surprises that link this transformation from industrial city to smart city based on new business models” – Giorgio Di Palermo
Innovations in a consolidated event
“We have inherited an event that is already innovative in terms of television production and content marketing by the ATP, but there will be surprises that link this transformation from industrial city to smart city based on new business models: electric mobility, ticketing, new forms of hospitality, apps aimed at boosting fan engagement are some innovations that we have incorporated into the strategic plan of the event,” says Di Palermo.
Brands such as FedEx, Emirates and Rolex, sponsors of the ATP, will continue to have a prominent presence at the event, as will Nitto, the company that has given its name to the Finals since 2017 when it took over the ‘naming rights’ from Barclays. “Nitto opted to remain linked to the ATP Finals for the next five years with the clear objective of consolidating its brand in the European market. The O2 Arena stole the show in London, a city that offers fantastic events. The ATP Finals did not have an easy time positioning its brand among the extraordinary leisure offer of the city, while Turin immediately saw and projected the event as the most important for the territory. That’s why, for six months now, the city has been ‘dressed-up’ in the colors of the Nitto ATP Finals and the integration is perfect,” says Di Palermo.
“The ATP Finals did not have an easy time positioning its brand among the extraordinary leisure offer of the city, while Turin immediately saw and projected the event as the most important for the territory” – Giorgio Di Palermo
These major brands will be joined by others with Italian DNA, such as Intesa Bank, Lavazza, Emporio Armani, Valmora, Italgas, Iren, Torino Outlet Village or Gattinoni. “The sponsors are working together in preparing for the event, where B2B opportunities will be immense. There will be a lot of brand activation for customers, corporate partners and executives who will be able to enjoy a unique event where they can also promote their business. We will organize conferences, cultural programs and solidarity activities in which sponsors can collaborate, and everyone will also have their space in the fan zone and in the commercial area, both at the event and at strategic points in the city.”
The Covid effect
The strategic plan has been conceived to adopt all security measures and protocols for the duration of the pandemic, throughout its different phases. The Italian Federation already organized last year’s ATP in Rome at the Foro Italico behind closed doors and are prepared to adopt all the necessary measures to ensure the best experience for everyone. “On an operational level, it was relatively simple due to all the limitations we had,” Di Palermo explains,“but on an economic level, the impact of Covid was traumatic. This year, the conditions in Rome have already been different, with limited capacity and the obligation to empty the venue every day before 10 pm. We expect to be in another phase in November, with the pandemic more under control and a large part of the population vaccinated, but we are prepared in case this is not the case. Broadly speaking, players will follow a safety protocol, we will create a bubble as we have seen throughout this period, if it is still necessary, and we will be prepared to follow all recommendations. The Alpitour, as a venue, will make this job easier for us as it is the most modern and innovative sports facility in Italy. We would not have organized the finals in any other facility than the Alpitour, which can be segmented with four entrances and exits without contact between them. So we are convinced that we can offer a great show for the spectators who are able to attend the event and a great TV production for those watching from any corner of the world.”
The Nitto ATP Finals awards prize money of US$1,564,000 to the winner in singles and US$284,500 to the winners in doubles. But the prestige of winning the champions cup is much greater, the final reward for a whole year of domination. Turin is set to be a worthy host of the greatest indoor tennis spectacle and dazzle a global audience that reached 2.8 million viewers at its London stage. Tennis can be the gateway to many other opportunities.