Kelly Slater’s manager Terry Hardy is in the advanced stages of discussions with cable sports network ESPN to create a new, radically overhauled world tour in 2010. Most of the surfers, including Kelly himself, appear largely in the dark on the details, despite the tour being widely referred to by other competitors as ‘Kelly’s Tour’, a description he disputes.
The basics appear to be, eight events and much larger prize money – a minimum of $1.5 million per event – and only 16 invited surfers. Last place would receive US$40,000, as much as a surfer currently receives for winning a contest. Whether this new tour comes in under the ASP umbrella or becomes a rival breakaway tour hinges on upcoming discussions between ASP, ESPN, Terry Hardy and the surfers. An announcement is expected at the US Open in California next week.
“ESPN has signed on to support and fully back a tour to potentially start next year. This is huge news and opportunity. This would include a ‘new’ tour based on what the surfers want to have in terms of judging, locations, formats, etc,” says Kelly in an e-mail he sent to WCT surfers last night.
“The sponsors that are currently sponsoring ourselves and our tour events have all been contacted and included in discussions to potentially have events on this tour. It would also include a dedicated, full-time web team and signature look to all events. Basically they are looking to present a fully professional sports package of surfing to the world with dedicated prime time TV and the best, live webcasting available.”
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