Aug. 23, 2019, By: Ryanne Salzano
The U.S. Tennis Association owes the city more than $300,000 in back rent, according to an audit released Thursday by City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
The USTA, which is currently hosting the U.S. Open and operates the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, underreported at least $31 million in revenue between 2014 and 2017, Stringer said.
Stringer held a press conference at the National Tennis Center Thursday and called on the USTA to pay up. He estimates the city is owed more than $311,000.
The USTA holds a 99-year lease with the city, a deal that was stitched together by Mayor David Dinkins in 1993 shortly before he left office. The USTA is required to pay an annual base rent of $400,000, plus one percent of its net gross revenues more than $20 million.
Stringer said the lease needs be renegotiated, since the USTA is able to restrict the city’s access to it financial reports.
“Our audit found millions in revenue that the USTA failed to report to the city and a lease that protects the USTA’s secrecy rather than promoting transparency,” Stringer said.
The USTA is not required to provide the city with access to electronic copies of its financial records or bring paper copies off-site. Therefore, the NYC Parks Dept., which oversees the lease, routinely accepts the USTA’s financial reports at face value, Stringer said.
The Comptroller also said that there were other inconsistencies with the USTA’ financial records. The audit found $8 million in other revenue that appears to have been unreported, which could potentially add up to $82,000 in additional rent owed.
“Any corporate entity leasing land from the city must pay its fair share of rent–no ifs, and, or buts about it,” Stringer said. “The Tennis Center collects more than $300 million annually, and yet, it shortchanges city taxpayers. An organization as revenue-rich as the USTA should not be shortchanging the city.”
But the USTA responded arguing that it pays its way.
“Over the course of the four-year audit period, USTA paid more than $12 million in rent and provided over $3 billion in direct economic impact to the City of New York,” the organization said in a statement to the Daily News.
The organization also said that it has paid more than $10 million “as a good-will gesture” for improvements to the surrounding area.