SBD/March 19, 2013/Facilities

Indian Wells Tennis Garden Begins Construction; Capacity To Increase By 17,000

Capacity at Indian Wells will rise from 25,000 to 42,000 after the $70M expansion
Indian Wells Tennis Garden yesterday “began construction on a new 8,000-seat second stadium and will add parking for 2,000 more vehicles,” according to Leighton Ginn of the Palm Springs DESERT SUN. The venue’s current capacity is 25,000 per session, but after the $70M expansion, the capacity “will increase to 42,000 per session.” However, that is “contingent on the aggressive building schedule, which is 10 1/2 months.” The BNP Paribas Open this year “attracted a record paid attendance of 382,227 fans" over the 12-day event. It marked "the 13th time in 14 tournaments at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in which the tournament broke its attendance record.” The BNP Paribas Open has “separated itself from other tournaments by increasing its prize money.” Tournament CEO Raymond Moore said, “The players now unanimously are saying, ‘Why aren’t all the other tournaments like Indian Wells?’ So that’s what we have been able to do and we will continue to do. I’m not being arrogant when I say we’ve distanced ourselves from most of the other non-Grand Slam tournaments by the innovations that we have come with.” Ginn noted the “only drawback this year came with television coverage.” ESPN had the “rights to the matches, but didn’t broadcast them on its main networks but instead on ESPNEWS, which frustrated Moore.” He said, “It’s a two-year debacle for us, for this year 2013 and 2014. It’s not something we like. We could have taken other options, but we like ESPN and we have developed a good partnership with them” (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 3/18).

EMPIRE STATE OF MIND: In N.Y., Lisa Foderaro reports the USTA's $500M construction plan for the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center has "encountered unusually well-organized opposition." The project would replace two of the center's three stadiums "while adding 7,000 seats, new retail space, parking and expanded walkways." But to "achieve that, the Tennis Center, which occupies 42 acres inside Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, needs a .68-acre strip of parkland" from N.Y. Hundreds of people "turned out in recent weeks at six public hearings held by local community boards; half of the boards voted in favor of the project, and half voted against." The city council will "consider those votes, which are nonbinding, when it weighs the project this summer." But opposition to the plan has been "heightened by two other proposals" for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (N.Y. TIMES, 3/19). 
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