October 23, 2020

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Charleston WTA tournament announces major renovation


The new stadium at the Volvo Open will be impressive. (Photo by Obviouslee Marketing)


In these tough times, and especially after the Volvo Open was forced to cancel its event in 2020, here’s some great tennis news from Charleston.

The tournament announced on Wednesday that it will undergo a major renovation. The work will bring the 20-year-old facility up to to state-of-the-art not only on the stadium side, but in the player facilities and fan experience areas.

It will also allow the site to host more events other than the yearly WTA Tour stop.

The renovations are “a gift to the city of Charleston” from new tournament owners Ben and Kelly Navarro, who acquired it in Sept. 2018.

“We’ve come up with a plan that maintains its intimacy while also modernizing the facility. We are excited to be working with the city to re-imagine Volvo Car Stadium and create an exceptional space for locals and visitors to experience world-class entertainment in Charleston,” was the quote from Ben Navarro.

(Photo by Obviouslee Marketing)

New player services building – and a canopy

The revamped stadium will not have a roof. But it will have a “permanent canopy structure”. That will provide shade for tennis fans on that side of the stadium. And it also will protect a new stage infrastructure that can be used for concerts from the elements.

There will also be a “stage house” that will have locker rooms, physical therapy space and television production areas. There will also be a new VIP Club level area in that building that will overlook Center Court.

The renovations will double the number of permanent bathrooms. A new elevated boardwalk under the stadiums oak trees will be added. And the concession areas will be upgraded.

(Photo by Obviouslee Marketing)

It’s a truly generous donation from the Navarros, who are diehard tennis fans. Their daughter Emma, a former top-ranked junior who has played in the tournament, headed to college after making the French Open junior final a year ago.

They’re the kind of tennis philanthropists every tournament host city needs. But, of course, they’re very rare.

The Volvo Open, back in 2016 (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)

Temporary stadium for 2021

After the city of Charleston issues final approvals, the project is scheduled to be completed in about a year.

For the 2021 event, a temporary stadium will be constructed on the site of the second court, the Althea Gibson Court. The temporary capacity will be 3,000 fans.

The Volvo Open stadium as it currently stands. It will look significantly different in 2022, when the event celebrates its 50th edition.

The tournament, formerly known as the Family Circle Cup, has a long and illustrious history. It was the first women-only event to gain prominence on the pro tour.

The event celebrates its 50th edition in 2022.

So far, the plan is all systems go for the 2021 tournament, despite the pandemic.

“As of now, our team is working as if we are moving forward with our normal preparation cycle for the tournament. With that said, we will be planning for multiple variations of what the event could be. The overarching premise is that the health and safety of our fans, players, volunteers, partners and staff will be our top priority,” Volvo Open tournament director Bob Moran said in the press release.