Inside Events: Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show | Sports Destination Management

Inside Events: Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

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Jan 19, 2023 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher
An Interview with Danny Zausner, Chief Operating Officer, USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

www.westminsterkennelclub.org

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The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show presented by Purina Pro Plan, America's second-longest continuously held sporting event, will be held May 8-9, 2023, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows – Corona Park in Queens, New York City.

Prior to the pandemic, the show was held at Madison Square Garden. For several years, it was held at a historic estate north of NYC but spectators weren’t allowed. In 2023, Westminster welcomes back the crowds in a completely new venue. Sports Destination Management caught up with Danny Zausner of the USTA to find out how the arrangements unfolded.

Sports Destination Management: This will be your first time hosting Westminster. How long has it been in the works?

Danny Zausner: They reached out to us in late summer, and we started talking about it.

SDM: Is this a one-year-only or are you looking at the long term?

Zausner: They, as well as we, are hopeful this could be a long-term arrangement. We are very confident.

SDM: How will the show be laid out?

Zausner: They are still working on the operations plan. We’ll be using Arthur Ashe Stadium and some of the outdoor courts as well.

SDM: The tennis center has plenty of room for the show to spread out.

Zausner: We do. We have four different stadiums in different sizes here, plus lots of infrastructure.

Westminster Kennel Club Dog ShowSDM: Back in 2019, the National Tennis Center hosted the Fortnite World Cup Finals; have you done anything like that since that time?

Zausner: From 2014 to 2018, we transformed the entire campus and a lot of construction was going on. In 2019, once it was finished, we had the Fortnite event. Obviously, tennis is our big revenue stream, but we have hosted a number of other things as well. We do a tremendous number of high school and college graduations. We really see it as a wonderful opportunity to introduce a new audience to our grounds.

SDM: Any sports other than tennis and esports?

Zausner: We have hosted All Elite Wrestling in September for the last two years; that brings in between 15,000 and 18,000 people. This has also been the location of a lot of TV shoots because it’s such an expansive site.

SDM: Westminster gets a lot of TV coverage. What are you looking forward to most about hosting it?

Zausner: Within the walls of these kinds of shows, Westminster is the preeminent event. Any time we can expose the world like that to our facility, it’s good. It can only help grow interest. And honestly, we’re very fortunate that we work with a board that always asks us what is next.

USTA BJK National Tennis CenterSDM: Tennis really grew in the pandemic.

Zausner: Yes, the sport saw incredible growth in COVID and coming out of it. The immediate question was whether this was a honeymoon or whether it was a one-time thing, but we have continued to see growth. You see it on the courts here, in both our children’s programs and our adults programs. It’s really wonderful.