Executive Stories

Executives Spotlight stories appeared on this website starting in 2001. Some of the executive's professional experience may have changed since they were published.

Executive Spotlight - July 17, 2008

Danny Zausner

Managing Director, USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

"What a day for a daydream..."

- The Lovin' Spoolful

If you haven't noticed, I'm a huge tennis fan! Of all the sport clients we manage, this is the one activity, Danny Zausner besides running with my dog, in which I still participate. While in college, I would daydream of playing professional tennis. I bought a Billie Jean King tennis racket because I was convinced I would play like her if I had HER tennis racket. I was fortunate to work for Wilson Sporting Goods and stencil "W"s on the rackets of these world famous athletes. Although saddened the event outgrew Forest Hills, when I returned a few years ago after a long hiatus to this huge expanse in Flushing Meadows, I was struck by the cleanliness, the helpful staff, and the ease in sitting up-close in the 10,000 seat Louie Armstrong stadium and not having to pay a cent more. My mother, who has attended this event for over 25 straight years, drew me back, and I could dream again about what it would have been like to be on this stage.

America should rejoice. We host the world's largest 2 week sporting event in the world! The US Open Tennis Championships. Sure, a little over a million fans witnessed Euro 2008 games but across 8 venues in 3 weeks. No more than 100,000 can attend our after New Year's Winter fling, the SuperBowl . And recently America's pastime, the All-Star Game, drew less than 50,000 as the venues have been downsized.

700,000 people attend the US Open annually. They come from all over the world to a site once known as the home to the "World's Fair." Truly it is a World's Fair, with hundreds of thousands of spectators spread across 43 acres of land and sitting watching consecutive matches in 3 stadiums of 23, 000, 10,000 and 6,000 seats and many more open tennis courts. The number of people passing through these turnstiles in two weeks equals the number of people attending a whole season of an NFL football team.

So, who is the host of this World's Fair? Danny Zausner. Some might contend, he's a relative of the great Walt Disney, as Danny has been re-creating this venue for reveries and fairy tales since joining the USTA in 2001.

Although reducing operating expenses by 15%, Danny has been able to add to our tennis national governing body's coffers through innovations he's contributed to this 43 acre expanse to draw the world's best players and the world's most people. He does this while registering a 96% customer satisfaction rating and a 92% interest in coming back. He's...

  • Refurbished all restaurants and introduced three new ones which has helped lead to an increase in food and beverage sales
  • Redeveloped South Plaza of Fountains, landscape, concessions and sponsor positioning
  • Developed, constructed and opened the state of the art $70 million indoor public tennis facility which includes fitness facilities, classrooms, retail shops and more
  • Added new state of the art video screens and placed them in 6 different locations on the grounds
  • Refurbished the suites
  • Renovated the players lounge
  • Reorganized the merchandise program which led to increased sales

Truth be told, he was not born to the Disney family nor really worked there. Would you be surprised he first started his career as a concert promoter and was responsible for running one of the world's largest, most fantasized-about, rock concerts of all-time, Woodstock 94? Do you remember? Then for seven years thereafter, he took those talents and rose to one of the most senior-level ranks of the world's largest arena management companies, Ogden Entertainment, that was purchased by Aramark in 2000. It's not unexpected during those seven years with Ogden, Danny traveled all over North and South America, Europe, and the Far East gathering insights which would later help him in hosting the world's largest annually attended sporting event, our world's fair, the US Open Tennis Championships.

Eleven months of the year, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center operates as the largest public tennis facility in the world hosting tennis programs from tots to senior citizens. And for these two weeks ending summer, it expands to hold the world in its hands. The gladiators of today, tennis' rock stars, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, will most likely square off again in the final leg of tennis' grand slam. As you walk the impeccably groomed grounds, smell the fabulous food, sit in the clean, sun-washed chairs and stare up at the jumbotrons of athletes jousting, be proud to be an American. The man at the control room, our host to the World's Fair of Sports, has had miles and years to prepare for this role of creating my fantasy, your fantasy, the world's fair, our world's fair, Danny Zausner.

"And you can be sure that if you're feelin right
A day dream will last a long time into the night."

- The Lovin' Spoolful

Two weeks, in fact!

- Buffy Filippell

"Danny's one of the smartest, most creative and hardworking people in the sports and entertainment business with an incredible capacity to make stuff happen in the most unflappable manner."

---David Newman, Senior Vice President Marketing and Communications, New York Mets

What I do...

Danny is responsible for the day-to-day management of the world's largest tennis facility and host to the US Open Tennis Championships. With a small full-time staff and thousands of contracted workers, working with local government officials, Danny and his staff are responsible for hosting the world's largest 2 week sporting event.


Managing Director, USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center


OGDEN ENTERTAINMENT: New York, NY 1994-2000.
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