By Rachel Vick
The USTA National Tennis Center has failed to report millions of dollars in revenue in violation of a contract with New York City, according to an audit by the city comptroller.
The NTC, also known as the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, was supposed to pay the city 1 percent of all revenue over $20 million, in addition to a base rent of $400,000. The audit found that the NTC had not reported “at least” $31 million in revenue, resulting in a difference of more than $300,000 in rent that should have been paid to the Parks Department.
“Any corporate entity leasing land from the city must pay its fair share of rent – no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The Tennis Center collects more than $300 million annually, and yet, it shortchanges City taxpayers,” Stringer said.
Stringer also said that NTC’s current lease didn’t let auditors take relevant records offsite, explaining that it was within the center’s rights to refuse the requests for electronic copies.
Stringer’s recommends the NTC make up the difference and maintain accurate numbers, and that the Parks service should take further action to determine discrepancies beyond the audit’s analysis period and requested compensation reflective of the amount found, if any.
The NTC disputed the audit’s revenue numbers, stating that accurate figures were about half of those reported. They claimed that the discrepancies were a result of misinterpretation of the lease agreement.
Assemblymember Catalina Cruz spoke against the current parking situation, calling parking on the park’s green spaces “unacceptable,” as it impedes the children of the community’s space for play. She pointed out that the district is underfunded and could use that money to fund community programs.
“It’s not fair that you get to make all that money and skip out on paying the actual bill,” she said.
Stringer claimed to be opposed to the deal since his days as an assemblymember, and called for the agreement with the NTC to be revisited.
“Whenever the city enters an agreement with a multi-million dollar private entity, we have to protect New Yorkers first,” Stringer said.
He reiterated that they were asking for transparency and by no means want to end the partnership between the city and the USTA, he just wants them to be a better neighbor.