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Barry Hearn confident of achieving American darting dream at the second time of asking

Jamie Shaw in PDC Darts News 22 Dec 2016
Hearn pictured with the Sid Waddell trophy and walk-on girls Daniella and Charlotte (credit:PDC)

PDC Chairman Barry Hearn insists there is room for darts in the competitive American sports market and is hopeful is the inaugural US Darts Masters in Las Vegas can revitalise interest stateside.

The PDC will return to Vegas in 2017 following an eight-year absence, with sport's elite taking on the cream of North American talent in a World Series event from July 13-15.

The darting landscape in the USA has changed somewhat since the last PDC televised event, with soft-tip having largely overtaken steel-tip as the most popular form of participation.

Hearn, however, is confident of galvanizing interest levels in professional steel-tip by sending the sport's biggest names back across the pond to perform live on network television.

"I think the American market is the toughest market in the world to crack for any sport," admitted Hearn. "We're going back to Vegas to give it another crack.

"America is all about jam today with no investment in tomorrow and that's why they cherry-pick the very big events like Superbowl and the NBA - they're established and they absorb all the money.

"We're fortunate to be working with David Hill, who's Rupert Murdoch's right-hand man for TV, he has his own production company and he's the genius of sports television globally.

"He believes that darts has a future. We'll be on primetime network which is the best we've ever done there.

"It's our best chance. Will it be successful? I don't know, but the day we stop trying is the day the sport goes back to how it was.

"We're prepared to be creative and we will be prepared to fail."

John Part and Phil Taylor enjoy the high temperatures outside during the Las Vegas Desert Classic II in 2003 (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Hearn has sacrificed the Tokyo Darts Masters in favour of a return to the USA as part of the ever-growing PDC World Series of Darts circuit.

A $160,700 prize fund will be on offer in Vegas, with four qualifying events offering the chance for north American players to take on the likes of Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson.

"Outside of Europe, the world is our oyster with the World Series," added Hearn. "The eight players we've taken around the world this year have been exemplary - they're enjoying the fact that they are real sporting stars.

"We'll not be in Tokyo next year, we can only do six events and we swapped that for Las Vegas.

"The World Series continues not just to educate local fans but local TV companies see what happens and they become huge customers.

"The World Championship this year is going live to 132 countries, it's unparalleled, including the USA, South America, Canada, Asia, Europe and Australasia.

"Whilst I think this is an amazing achievement, I honestly think it is just the beginning of taking a sport with no barriers to entry, no expensive equipment or club fees.

"Darts is working man's golf, it's based solely on ability. It's an ordinary game played by extraordinary people.

"In my 41 years of working, I don't think I've ever been so motivated by the success of a sport as I am with darts."

Currently, no player from the USA holds a PDC Tour Card, with only three-time World Champion John Part and Ken MacNeil flying the flag for Canada in the world's top 100.

This is in stark contrast to the time of the formation of the PDC (then known as the World Darts Council) when seven players from the United States appeared in the inaugural World Championship at the Circus Tavern in 1994.

Larry Butler remains the only American player to have won a major darts tournament in Europe (the 1994 World Matchplay) and emphasised his longevity by reaching the final of the 2015 BDO World Masters.


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Barry Hearn confident of achieving American darting dream at the second time of asking

PDC Chairman Barry Hearn insists there is room for darts in the competitive American sports market and is hopeful is the inaugural US Darts Masters in Las Vegas can revitalise interest stateside.

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