Delray serves tennis tournament operator with lawsuit

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By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor
Delray Beach is taking its tennis tournament operator to court, circuit court that is.
The city has filed a lawsuit against Matchpoint, which is responsible for hosting an annual professional tennis event sanctioned by the Association of Tennis Professionals at the city’s tennis stadium, as a way to possibly save the city money.
In a lawsuit filed on behalf of the city by outside attorney Jamie Cole, the city alleges the contract didn’t adhere to the city’s purchasing rules. The lawsuit is asking the court to rule on whether the contract is voidable because it didn’t follow the city’s rules when it was entered into.
This contract began in 2005. The agreement gave Matchpoint a 25-year license to use, manage and operate the tennis center, at 201 W. Atlantic Ave., during tournament events, according to the lawsuit. It also states amendments to the agreement have permitted Matchpoint to add events over the years.
Over the years, tennis stars including Andy Roddick and John Isner have played in Delray. The event is featured on international television and attracts tennis lovers to the city.
But some city commissioners say the contract is costing the city too much money. The agreement requires the city to pay Matchpoint for the event with annual increases. The first year cost the city about $918,000. Now, the contract requires the city to pay about $1.5 million. The contract expires in 2030 and commissioners are turning to the court for a possible way out of the deal.
The legal argument described in the lawsuit is the same one the city used to successfully throw out the city’s trash collection contract with Waste Management in court. Cole also represented the city in that case. Where this lawsuit could differ is Matchpoint owns the rights to the ATP event meaning it may not be able to be bid to other promoters.
The lawsuit states the city didn’t competitively bid the contract. City rules state the city is required to competitively bid any contract that costs the city more than $15,000.
Matchpoint tournament director Mark Baron could not be reached for comment, despite several phone calls to his office.