Steven Deare, ZDNet Australia

ausopenUpdate Tennis Australia has admitted it paid a “hefty fee” to a scalper of the domain name kind in order to obtain the Web address it wanted as part of a rebranding campaign.

Australian tennis’s governing body this month launched as part of a marketing campaign. Speaking at the Australian Open yesterday, Tennis Australia CEO Steve Wood revealed the organisation purchased the domain name from a cyber-squatter after a couple of years of negotiations.

“We bought it from a friendly cyber-squatter. We’ve been trying for a couple of years to convince this group that we were better with that site than them and they weren’t doing much work with it,” he said.

Tennis Australia paid a “hefty fee” to the Sydney-based group, but less than a six-figure sum, said Wood. He would not reveal the group’s identity other than to say they were not sport-related.

“It’s quite common, I might say, that domain names are bought and traded and so on. And we’re very excited now that we’ve got that.”

Wood has 18 years IT experience having worked for several vendors including Nortel Networks before joining Tennis Australia 18 months ago.

Tennis Australia’s payment to the cyber-squatter comes as several sporting and entertainment promoters recently upped their fight against ticket scalpers. Both Cricket Australia and the Big Day Out last year took new measures against people buying tickets purely for re-sale purposes.

Wood, however, had no qualms with the ethics of the purchase.

Asked if he agreed the purchase was like paying a ticket scalper, Wood said: “Yeah, perhaps, but from my perspective, we needed all the tools of our trade to run our business.

“And for whatever reason someone else had that tool and I needed to get it and for a fee I was able to extract that.

“Now we have that, and now the sport is better off for it. And we’re executing on that opportunity.”

The site will be redeveloped again in the second quarter of this year to improve Tennis Australia’s business.

“We’re going to have that as our key window to the world,” said Wood.

“[] will give us new revenue streams. We’ll be able to sell from that site. We’ll be selling merchandise, perhaps photos, archived footage, all of the things that we can commercialise.

“We’re going to go much earlier on pre-sale for tickets. We’re going to be much more flexible on how you’ll be able to buy your tickets, because that’s one of the things we see our customers looking to extract from their experience.”

Steven Deare travelled to Melbourne as a guest of IBM.