No King-sized crowd on Billie Jean King Night


Former tennis great talks about Orange County Breakers and World Team Tennis.

July 25, 2012|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(Kevin Chang | Daily…)

IRVINE — On Billie Jean King Night, the first one 100 fans received a free bobblehead of the tennis icon.

That meant about half of everyone who came to watch the Orange County Breakers play on Wednesday night got a bobblehead.

The turnout at the Bren Events Center on the UC Irvine campus looked small. The number of tickets sold was 932, but inside an arena that sits 5,000, around 200 fans showed up.

The fanfare for the local World Team Tennis appears to have dropped since the Breakers left Newport Beach last year, much of it because of the larger size of the new venue.

While the team is in contention in the Western Conference standings, the change from playing outdoors to indoors has not been much of a success at the ticket gate.


King, the owner of the Breakers, noticed the low numbers firsthand, on her night.

There has been talk of King moving the WTT-run franchise again, this time out of Orange County. King said she could have the team any place she wants, but she wants a Southern California presence because of her roots in Long Beach.

"This is our challenge team. Every other team is doing well. Challenges," King sighed. "We just moved into this arena, so I'm going to have to make some changes.

"We knew it was going to be tough because we took over the team really late. In all fairness to our [general manager Kerry Schneider], who's a league person, we sent her out here. I told her, 'Just run the team this year. We'll worry about next year.'"

The Daily Pilot sat down with King, 68, and talked about the state of the Breakers and World Team Tennis.

Question: Do you like the arena's layout?

Answer: We have to cover up some stuff and start over. I don't know. It's too big right now. We have Smash Hits here twice, which we do for Elton (John's) AIDS Foundation. We pretty much pack this place, but that's because it's for a charity.

Q: Are you happy that you relocated the team?

A: I think long term, or, I don't know. We'll figure it out. I just think it's a neutral site. That's why I like it. You got a lot of clubs in the area. One year it was really cold and damp (in Newport Beach), it was like 50. Everybody had to bring their blankets out. I was thinking, 'Oh, my gosh!'

Q: Is there any talk of maybe of going elsewhere?

A: We'll just reevaluate. It's fine. Our other cities do really well. They pack them.

Q: What cities do well?

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