Progress, in the case of the Miami Open, means relocating from lovely but outdated surroundings in Key Biscayne, Fla. to a brand-new facility in the parking lot of an NFL football stadium off the Florida Turnpike in north Miami.
And, if the proposed renderings are faithful to the finished product, it could be pretty sweet.
IMG, which owns the Miami Open, confirmed Wednesday that the event will be moving to Hard Rock Stadium for 2019. So this March will be the final time players and fans will risk the traffic jam caused on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
Certainly the players – and the fans – will appreciate the new, modern facilities and the more accessible site.
The press release says the Miami Open had “numerous offers to relocate to other cities.” But IMG had a partner with deep pockets in Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.
“The Miami Open belongs in Miami,” WME and IMG co-president Mark Shapiro said in the press release. “While we’re looking forward to creating the new Miami Open experience at Hard Rock Stadium, our priority is to make the last edition of the Key Biscayne event the best it’s ever been.”
There’s also a quote from Serena Williams, a South Florida resident and, as it happens, the owner of a small piece of the Dolphins.
“I’ve enjoyed some of my best career moments in Miami thanks to the amazing tournament team and the supportive Miami fans. I am thrilled the Miami Open is staying in Miami, where it belongs,” was the quote from Williams.
The plans are ambitious – and Ross is writing the cheques to ensure that it doesn’t look like a big tournament dumped temporarily in the parking lot.
The biggest issue to wrap your head around is the stadium court. In a 65,000-seat football stadium, it’s hard to imagine a 14,000-seat stadium court won’t look lost.
There is no rendering that shows the position of the tennis stadium within the arena, so it’s still hard to tell how it will look and feel.
As a comparison, here’s now Petco Park, home of the baseball San Diego Padres, looked when they built a temporary clay court for Davis Cup a few years ago.
With the high stands on all side of the new court inside Hard Rock Stadium, it’ll probably feel a lot more intimate.
The cost of turning part of the Hard Rock Stadium property into a tennis venue, IMG says, is just shy of $16 million.
But there’s going to be more of everything, compared to the Key Biscayne site. And it will all be fresher, and bigger and better and newer.
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Overall Site Improvements
– General Admission Parking increases from 2,500 to 5,166
– Premium Parking increases from 2,043 to 3,061
– Overflow Parking increases from 904 to 9,232
– Player Parking increases from 409 to 910
– Total on-site courts increase from 21 to 30
– On-site practice courts increase from 9 to 18
– Total seating capacity of 5,660 at practice courts
– Courts with Tour Standard lighting increases from 6 to 20 (to allow more evening matches)
– Permanent Grandstand infrastructure including player lounge, locker rooms and gym
– Total On-site seating increases from 25,062 to 32,474
– Stadium Seating will be approximately the same – 13,800
*4,738 Premium Seats/8,870 General Admission
*26 permanent suites with the opportunity to add 24 temp suites (vs. 26 at Crandon Park)
– Grandstand Seating capacity (5,042), Court 1 (3,000) and Court 2 (1,500)
*Current Crandon Park capacity – Grandstand (4,007), Court 1 (2,240), Court 2 (1,389)
– Dining space increases from 9,000 sq ft to 30,000 sq ft
– Gym space increases from 3,000 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft
– Locker Room space increases from 10,000 sq ft to 17,000 sq ft
– Player individual lockers increase from 296 to 512
– Lounge space increases from 11,000 sq ft to 34,000 sq ft
– Tournament staff space increases from 8,098 sq ft to 12,815 sq ft
One thing that will definitely be lacking is shade – trees, for one thing.
And it looks like the practice courts, all in a row as they are, are going to need some dividers of some sort.
Otherwise, everyone will be chasing down each other’s balls, three courts away, constantly as they’re practicing. And you hope they’ll re-think the overwhelmingly teal court colour, as Miami and as Dolphin-y as it is.
The surrounding parking lots absolutely dwarf the site. Instead of being surrounded by water and trees, the new venue will be surrounded by… asphalt.
But it’s really only on the overhead view that you notice it. Once they’re inside the site, fans probably won’t give it a second thought.
Progress means losing a little bit of your soul, sometimes. In this case, IMG and the tournament wanted to spend the money on the current site to bring it up to world-class standards.
They just weren’t allowed to.
(Renderings and numbers provided by IMG)