By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
March 23, 2012
For the sixth straight year, the BNP Paribas Open broke its attendance record, drawing 370,408 fans to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Much of the event’s appeal to players and fans alike can be attributed to tournament owner Larry Ellison, better known in business circles as the Founder and CEO of high tech giant Oracle Corp.
With a net worth estimated at $37 billion, Ellison is considered the third richest person in the United States, behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. But he’s the biggest sports fan. Besides tennis, Ellison loves sailing – he’s invested $300 million in the next America’s Cup race in San Francisco in September. He was also said to consider bidding for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Now, it’s basketball. Ellison lost out on the Golden State Warriors in 2010, and earlier this month looked into buying the Memphis Grizzlies. When asked how he could improve that sport, Ellison told reporters he’d want to get fans closer to the action.Tennis fans would no doubt agree that Ellison has done much to put their sport front and center.