Karl Budge - the man be­hind the ASB Clas­sic

Auckland City Harbour News - - MILESTONES - TAO LIN

The up­com­ing ASB Clas­sic has never looked bet­ter, with the 2017 tour­na­ment full of in­ter­na­tional tennis stars and glitzy life­style events.

It wasn’t al­ways that way though. The man be­hind it all, Karl Budge, de­scribes the trans­for­ma­tion of the event as go­ing from be­ing like a ‘‘Toy­ota Camry to a shiny, mod­ern BMW’’.

Budge grew up in the tennis world and worked for the Aus­tralian Open as a spon­sor­ship man­ager and the Women’s Tennis As­so­ci­a­tion as head of sales and mar­ket­ing be­fore be­com­ing the ASB Clas­sic tour­na­ment direc­tor. He brought over the idea of in­cor­po­rat­ing food and fash­ion into the tour­na­ment, as well as glam­ourous par­ties, to make it more than just a sports event.

This year’s event was the first one to have a ded­i­cated new fan area, which will be dou­bled in size in 2017, fea­tur­ing an ad­di­tional big screen, more bars and restau­rants and live mu­sic. And of course, Budge also se­cured the ap­pear­ances of world num­ber one Ser­ena Wil­liams, sis­ter Venus and for­mer world num­ber ones Caroline Woz­ni­acki and Ana Ivanovic. Good re­la­tion­ships were cru­cial to bring­ing the big name play­ers over.

‘‘I’ve been in tennis for 12 years. It helps that I’m Face­book friends [with the play­ers]. I can have a chat to Ana’s fa­ther as much as I can to her agent.’’

BE­VAN READ/FAIRFAX NZ

ASB Clas­sic tour­na­ment direc­tor Karl Budge wants the event to be one that both tennis and non-tennis fans will flock to.

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