The world's largest squash spectator event, the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, will celebrate 15 years of competition by the world's best professional players in Grand Central Terminal in New York when the 2012 championship takes place from 20-26 January. The only sports championship hosted annually in Grand Central Terminal, the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions is one of the most coveted titles on the Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Tour, and a favourite venue of the players.
"In the last decade and a half, the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions has become one of the truly iconic events in the world of squash and in New York City," says John Nimick, president of Squash Engine, Inc., the event promoter. "The majestic Grand Central setting and the enthusiasm of our fans creates an energy and excitement that is unique in the professional squash world.
"The players especially appreciate the fact that every session is filled to capacity and that their prowess is evident to the thousands of passersby who make their way through Grand Central every day."
The unique PSA World Series event was recognised by Yahoo this week when the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions' Grand Central Terminal setting was listed in the top ten of the world's "most unusual sports venues".
The 15th anniversary celebration is being commemorated with the creation of a permanent trophy by world-renowned artist Frank Stella and the return of several past champions for a special legends showcase. A PSA World Series Gold event, the 2012 JP Morgan Tournament of Champions features a 32-player main draw and a 32-player qualification tournament. The combination of the perennial sold-out stadium seating and the public viewing available on the front wall by what is expected to be more than 200,000 Grand Central commuters during tournament week makes the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions the largest squash spectator event in the world.
JP Morgan, a global financial services company, is returning as the title sponsor and Lexington Partners as a gold sponsor. New sponsors supporting the event are silver sponsors NBC Universal and Sea Island and bronze sponsor New York Observer. The JP Morgan Tournament of Champions is also supported by returning sponsors Cayman Islands, Rums of Puerto Rico, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, Dunlop, Campbell Apartment, Columbia Hospital and New York Life.
The championship debuted as the US Professional Championship in 1930 and was renamed the Tournament of Champions in 1993 when it was presented in the third of its four years at the Winter Garden in the World Financial Center. The tournament then moved to Grand Central Terminal in 1995, where its annual presence since has been interrupted only by the Terminal's renovation from 1996 -1998. The Tournament of Champions has truly lived up to its name - all but two of the titleholders have either been No1 in the world rankings or the winner of the annual World Open championship.
Shortlisted by the International Olympic Committee for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games, squash is contested in all the other major international multi-sport games and has been rated by Forbes magazine as the No1 healthiest sport based on cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, calories burned and risk of injury. The sport was first played in England more than 100 years ago and is now popular in more than 150 countries. There are 20 million squash players worldwide and 400,000 in the United States.
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The top ten most unusual sports venues: