SBD/March 13, 2014/Events and Attractions

BNP Paribas Open Profile Continues To Rise With Help From Tennis Garden Expansion

A key ingredient to Indian Wells' expansion was to provide more parking
The lead architect on the Indian Wells Tennis Garden expansion project said the mandate for the improvements was that they "should feel like they've always been here." During a facility tour posted on USATODAY.com, Keisker & Wiggle Architects President Gary Wiggle said, "Everything needed to be related and everything needed to work together to just enhance the guest experience and make this the best tennis venue possible." He added the "key ingredient" of the expansion was to provide more parking for fans. Wiggle: "We did a lot of work on this site. We built four more practice courts, we got a new front door and 2,000 more parking spaces" (USATODAY.com, 3/9).

READY FOR THE BIG TIME? SI.com's Jon Wertheim wrote, "Once every five years, move the U.S. Open to Indian Wells." Organizers "can access a tremendous, TV-friendly facility" and "tap into the West Coast and a whole new suite of fans, media partners and potential sponsors." The courts "would require no resurfacing." Assuming the dates do not change, "there will be complaints about the desert heat in late summer." But it is "not as though hot, humid days in New York are uncommon." Wertheim: "If this is really the U.S. Open and not the New York Open, why not rotate the site the way golf does? Especially now that [Oracle CEO Larry] Ellison has essentially gifted tennis with the facility." The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in N.Y. "accommodates 700,000 fans; from hotel space to parking to catering, can Indian Wells handle this scale?" There also is the "balance-sheet evaluation." Money "sloshes through the U.S. Open." Wertheim: "The common turnstile fans are not the focus; it's the suites and the hospitality tents and the folks who arrive in driven black Escalades and helicopters and depart to Greenwich or the Hamptons. Will the monied crowd still buy the suite and catering service in the Coachella Valley" (SI.com, 3/12). TENNIS.com's Peter Bodo wrote players "don't need a fifth major." Bodo: "We already have one. It's taking place right now, in the California desert at Indian Wells." The Int'l Tennis Federation and the four "self-interested" Grand Slam nations "are crazy not to embrace Indian Wells as a major." If Indian Wells continues to grow "so robustly, it will make the four traditional majors look like low performers" (TENNISTUESDAY.net, 3/11).

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: In California, Leighton Ginn noted at UCLA, the Southern California Tennis Association and even the Int'l Tennis HOF, one can see former BNP Paribas Open Owner Charlie Pasarell "honored for his work." When Pasarell "took over the little tournament" in '80, it was the "35th-ranked event on the men’s tour." When Pasarell "walked away from the tournament, it was the fifth-largest in the world, only behind the four majors." BNP Paribas Open CEO Raymond Moore, who was Pasarell’s partner in building the tournament, has said that they want to "come up with something to honor Pasarell and reflect what he’s done." Whatever the tournament "eventually comes up with, it will have to reflect what Pasarell has done not only for this tournament, but American tennis and this community" (MYDESERT.com, 3/9).
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