New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has accused the USTA of underreporting at least $31 million in revenue over the last four years, while also accusing the United States body of obstructing an audit by his office. By underreporting, the USTA has short changed the New York City revenue department by over $311,000, US media has reported citing the Comptrollers’ report.
Stringer has also reported a discrepancy of $8 million in the USTA financial reports and hinted that the sport’s body might owe an additional $82,000 to the city exchequer.
As part of the 99-year lease on the United States tennis facility, the USTA is obligated to pay to the City a 1% share of its yearly gross revenue in excess of $20 million.
“Any corporate entity leasing land from the city must pay its fair share of rent,” said Stringer, who has said he intends to run for mayor in 2021. “An organization as revenue-rich as the USTA should not be short-changing the city.”
The Comptroller has also called for a renegotiation of the lease of the site, which has been in place since 1993. The USTA has leased the Tennis Center ground from the New York City Parks Department for $400,000 per year. The 1% revenue share applies over and above the annual rentals.
According to Stringer, the USTA underreporting $11.5 million in revenue from sponsorship deals and broadcasting rights could be both – a negligence or a deliberate attempt to conceal the revenue.
Meanwhile, New York Times has reported National Tennis Center COO Danny Zausne as saying that the organization disagreed with the findings of the city’s audit and that 40% of the disputed back rent had already been paid to the city. He also stated that the organization saw no need to renegotiate the terms of its lease.
“The comptroller is entitled to make a statement, but we strongly disagree with it. We are a tenant of the ity and we’ve been a good tenant for 40 years. Things come down to interpretations sometimes, and we make our rent payments according to the interpretation of the lease as we see it,” Zausner has said.
The comptroller’s audit covers the years 2014 and 2017, a period in which the Tennis Center reaped $1.2 billion in revenue, according to Hazel Crampton-Hays, a Stringer spokeswoman. The audit found the organization failed to report millions of dollars of “in-kind revenue” from sponsors and media and ticket surcharges, and inappropriately subtracted some expenses from gross revenue. The $31 million represents about 2.5% of the National Tennis Center’s total revenue over the four years auditors examined.
The audit said the National Tennis Center responded to its findings by disputing the amount owed. It acknowledged only $14.3 million in under-reported revenue, and it agreed to pay $143,297 — less than half the $311,000 Stringer sought. Auditors also found the association over-reported $256,000 in revenue. USTA spokeswoman Julia Walsh did not return a phone calls and an email requesting comment.
With over 700,000 fans turning up to the Tennis Centre, US Open becomes one of the most attended events in the world. The auditors have reportedly calculated its economic impact at $800 million.
The US Open, starting on Monday, August 26, will run till September 8.