The Canadian inherits one of the toughest jobs in British sport after years of criticism over the organisation's failure to make the most of its annual multi-million pound Wimbledon subsidy.
Baroness Billingham, chair of the All Party Tennis Group, labelled the LTA as "useless" earlier this year, but Downey - Tennis Canada president for the last nine years - sees an unrivalled opportunity to develop the sport at performance and participation levels.
Loading article content
"I wouldn't have joined an organisation if I thought it was useless," said Downey, at his unveiling at the LTA's National Tennis Centre in Roehampton yesterday.
"I really do believe this is a great organisation, but great organisations can get better and need to continually get better, by looking at themselves and also being open to criticism from the outside.
"What the LTA is about is trying to engage others to help us collectively grow the sport; we're not talking about the LTA, we're talking about tennis in Britain. The mission is to help get more people playing tennis more often. A critical part of that mission is continued high-performance success for British tennis. Andy Murray is now a Wimbledon champion, two-time grand slam champion, this is immense for tennis in Britain. Andy's biggest contribution to tennis in Britain is winning. That's when you want to write about him, that's when people want to follow him, that's when kids are going to go out, pick up rackets and want to be Andy Murray."
The £640,000-a-year-plus-benefits salary paid to Downey's predecessor, Roger Draper - who leaves at the end of this month after more than seven years' service - was one aspect which rankled with Baroness Billingham. Downey, who will begin his role on January 6, with chief operating officer Nick Humby leading the executive in the interim period, will earn a salary of £300,000. "That is the right level for jobs of this magnitude," insisted David Gregson, the LTA chairman.
Downey, who hopes to meet Draper later this week, will have the opportunity, should "stringent" performance criteria be met, to earn a bonus of up to 30% (£90,000), Gregson confirmed.
A longer-term incentive will also be considered for the only person offered the role after a global search which produced more than 350 applicants, with around 30 interviewed.
Gregson defended the time taken to make an appointment, insisting that Downey fits all the criteria "perfectly" and, despite high-quality British applicants, the LTA was merely looking for the best person for the job.
"We advertised in May," said Gregson. "We never said we were going to announce after Wimbledon; all we said was that would be the earliest. I always envisaged a global search of this magnitude would take this long. Having done this dozens of times, this was the right [length of[ time."
Downey, who plans to champion mini-tennis and encourage children to get involved in the game from an early age, insists there are many parallels between British and Canadian tennis, not least the challenges of inclement weather which require indoor facilities.
He admitted that was one area where Tennis Canada has work to do - there are 120 indoor facilities, 80% of those in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal - and also that the participation figure in Canada of 1.2 million people playing tennis every fortnight, which was quoted by the LTA, was seasonal.
The Montreal National Training Centre, which opened in 2007, is bearing fruit, though. In 2012, both Wimbledon junior singles champions were Canadian - Filip Peliwo and Eugenie Bouchard - while world No.11 Milos Raonic led a team featuring Daniel Nestor to the Davis Cup semi-finals, where they lost to Serbia.
Roehampton, in west London, which also opened in 2007, is yet to produce to the same level.
While there are many parallels between Britain and Canada, there is one exception and Downey appreciates the size of the task he faces.
"This sport has far more importance in Britain than in Canada," he acknowledged. "The expectation will be higher of myself in this position."