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Add Vancouver and Berlin to the list of global cities welcoming the Laver Cup brand of tennis to otherwise non-tennis locales.
The ATP-sanctioned Laver Cup, founded by Roger Federer and Tony Godsick’s TEAM8 agency, along with backing from businessman Jorge Paula Lemann and now both Tennis Australia and the United States Tennis Association, serves up a Europe vs. the rest of the world weekend tennis tournament, annually shifting the host city between Europe and somewhere outside of Europe. In 2023, for the first time, Laver Cup leaves both Europe and the United States to host its sixth version in Vancouver’s Rogers Arena. Then, in 2024, Laver Cup returns to Europe for a stop in Berlin’s Mercedes-Benz Arena.
“The idea was always to move the Laver Cup around a little bit in the beginning,” Federer tells Forbes.com. “Obviously, these things can always change depending on the state of the game or what the decision is of the owners and organizers, but the idea was initially to bring it to places that don’t see so much tennis. And I think we were able to do that in Prague, maybe Geneva as well. London obviously knows it, but Chicago and Boston don’t really see it that often. And now we have Vancouver and Berlin coming. So, I think it’s a great idea to bring it there and also experience a different type of crowd.”
Those different types of crowds now have years to plan for the event.
Laver Cup hosted its first event in Prague in 2017, moved to Chicago in 2018, Geneva in 2019 and Boston in 2021. It will be held in London in September 2022. The event opened a new bid process to ensure the awarding of future cities further in advance, leading to the announcement of both Vancouver for September 2023 and Berlin for September 2024 (the Laver Cup holds a spot on the ATP calendar two weeks following the U.S. Open).
MORE: The Making Of The Laver Cup And How Tony Godsick And Roger Federer Plan To Keep It Going
“Being able to announce the next two venues was very important for us,” says Godsick, TEAM8 president and CEO and Laver Cup chairman. “It gives everyone some lead time, gets the cities excited and lets players, sponsors and other partners know where we are going to be. It is very exciting, and I feel like Vancouver and Berlin are two amazing cities.”
Canada has a rich history in tennis, already hosting popular tour stops in Toronto and Montreal and with a current influx of top-level talent on the world stage. The 2023 stop brings Laver Cup tennis to the West Coast of North America for the first time and may offer locals the chance to see both countrymen Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov.
“Having Felix and Denis involved hopefully will be amazing and there will be a bit of a home crowd,” Godsick says. “It will be exciting for the Canadians, and I think Vancouver is a bucket-list city.”
The rich tennis tradition doesn’t stop in Canada. Germany has long held a storied place in tennis history, but Berlin does not currently have a top-level ATP tour stop. “Berlin is one of the hottest cities in the world,” Godsick says, “people love going to visit.”
From the start, the Laver Cup mission focuses on visiting global destinations without a current hotbed of tennis. The 2022 stop in London stands as an outlier, a chance for the event to partner with AEG and fill the O2 Arena with tennis following the departure of the ATP Finals. Still, the first four Laver Cup cities and the 2023 and 2024 announcement fall back in line with the original mission.
“I just really think,” Federer says, “when you have an event like this in a city or in a country, it can really trickle down into the juniors if you do it really well. And I think that’s also been part of the Laver Cup’s duty in a way to leave something behind. So, they’ve also been out in the community, making sure that they give back as well.”
Steve Zacks, Laver Cup CEO, says now was a good time to implement a true future-minded bid process. Early in the event’s history organizers were learning what made the experience special, but now they understand what makes a successful event. “The goal is to name these locations much further in advance than we did in the past and create more value and to be able to plan ahead,” he says. “It has worked out really well.”
MORE: Laver Cup Is Bringing Unique Brand Of Tennis To Boston
In total, Laver Cup received 60 bids for each of the two different geographies (Europe and the rest of the world).
Moving the rest of the world location out of the United States was also important. “Our plan always has been to take the event all over the world,” Zacks says. “The mission is to bring tennis to new places.”
But moving beyond the U.S. had to wait. The 2018 bids for Chicago and Boston were just so strong, Laver Cup didn’t want to pass on the opportunity in both locations. And since both Chicago and Boston fit the mold of world-class cities without a strong current presence in tennis, organizers decided to host in the United States twice before moving beyond the country.
The Vancouver selection, though, signals that step away from the U.S. Along with a world-class arena to host an event—Rogers Arena plays host to major concerts and the NHL’s Canucks—Zacks says they look for a strong business center and a great travel destination. “Going to the Laver Cup isn’t just an experience about the tennis,’ he says. “Vancouver is a really incredible place and a place that a lot of fans may not necessarily have been to.” And with a strong history of world-level events—Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup—the Laver Cup has great confidence and experienced partners.
Berlin has been on the Laver Cup map for years. Early in the event, Berlin showed interest, but with projects around Mercedes-Benz Arena, Zacks says they knew waiting for the opening of both a new plaza full of restaurants and shopping and a new music hall made the most sense. “It became clear that Berlin and that arena were going to be fabulous,” he says, “it just would be better to do it later.” Later is 2024.
As Laver Cup continues to evaluate host sites for 2025 and 2026 based on the bids already received, Zacks says the interplay between the event and sponsors is always a factor in deciding a new location. Laver Cup has long had top-level sponsorship from Rolex, Mercedes-Benz and Credit Suisse, but look to court local partners as a unique chance for them to connect with fans of the event, entertain clients and be part of something distinct.
“We’ve been able to have so many blue-chip companies being part of the event and that’s been wonderful,” Federer says. “And I think they’ve seen also the class of the quality of the event.”
By having a three-day tournament that can bring together much of the tennis world—and 12 of the top men’s players on the tour—offers a different feel than one of the sport’s four major tournaments. “I think it’s so highly concentrated that over three days you can really have the best time and see old friends,” Federer says. “And I think that’s also one thing we were really able to achieve.”
With Laver Cup 2022 set for London, already folks in Germany and Canada can get excited about the next stops for the tournament. “Canada has a lot of positives going for it in the sport of tennis,” Godsick says. ” We are excited to go into that market that has a pulse for tennis and has a lot of energy—that creates something wonderful.”
“It’s like an All-Star weekend, but with intensity,” Federer says. “Because once a tennis player shows up, he always wants to win.”