The National Indoor Arena in Birmingham is set to become the permanent home of the world’s most prestigious squash event, the British Open, under a three-year deal between the NIA and the rights holders, Eye Group.
The British Open will be held at the NIA from 2001 to 2003, starting with this year’s event that will be staged from Tuesday June 5 to Sunday June 10. From 2002 onwards the ‘Wimbledon’ of squash will revert to its traditional April date.
Paul Smith, managing director of Eye Group who secured the commercial and broadcast rights to the British Open in an eight-year agreement signed last year, said:
‘Since entering into our partnership with the Squash Rackets Association (SRA) one of our key priorities has been to establish a permanent home and to return the tournament to its traditional date. Both these objectives are met under this agreement. Eye Group is undertaking a complete re-branding of squash both in this country and via the World Grand Prix tour and see one of the most important features being the British Open given a fixed date and a fixed venue for the foreseeable future.’
Established in 1922, the British Open made a highly successful debut at the NIA in 1998 when the tournament was won by Scotland’s world number one Peter Nicol. After moving to Aberdeen in 1999 it reverted back to the NIA last year when a live television audience on Sky Sports saw Welshman David Evans take the title in a thrilling match.
Mike Osborne, Senior Sports manager at the NIA said:
‘We are delighted by this long term agreement following the success of the tournaments in 1998 and 2000. We are looking forward to working with the Eye Group in developing the championships further.’
Under the partnership between the NIA and Birmingham City Council, squash is also to be introduced into the city’s Sports Development Strategy, working with the SRA to provide a range of opportunities from grassroots to elite level.
‘The City of Birmingham is very proud to be hosting the British Open Squash Championships,’ said Councillor Brenda Clarke, Cabinet Member, Leisure, Culture and Tourism.
‘Birmingham is a City with a proud sporting tradition and is very keen to play its part in the further development of international links through sporting competition and also looks forward to creating a range of development programmes.’
Tickets for this year’s event are available on the hotline at 0121 780 4444.
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