The BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament is "on pace to attract more" than 375,000 fans this year, which would "shatter last year's record" of 350,000, according to Leighton Ginn of the Palm Springs DESERT SUN. But tournament Owner and Oracle Founder & CEO Larry Ellison has his "sights set on attracting" 500,000 to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. In order to accomplish that, Ellison said that there will be "added parking and building on Stadium 2 to create a permanent structure to provide more comfort for the fans." If the tournament "does swell" to 500,000 fans, it will attract more than the '11 Wimbledon (494,761) and '11 French Open (429,105) events, but trail this year's Australian Open (686,006) and the '11 U.S. Open (658,664). Ellison said, "We have a goal to get 500,000 without changing the character of the tournament. We don't want it to be more crowded and more difficult. ... We want to maintain our position as the No. 1 Masters 1000 tournament." With a prize pool eclipsing the $11M mark, the BNP Paribas Open is the "richest of the elite Masters 1000 events" on the ATP World Tour and the WTA premier mandatory events. What distinguishes the four majors from the BNP Paribas Open is the "draw size." The majors have a 128-player draw in singles, while the BNP Paribas Open has a 96-player singles draw with the top 32 seeds "receiving first-round byes." By adding 32 players to the draw, the BNP Paribas Open "could be a full two-week event just like the majors." However, Ellison said that he "hasn't considered" that expansion yet. Ginn notes another expansion Ellison is considering is "adding clay courts to possibly open a tennis academy" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 3/16).
Events and Attractions
Ryan O'Doherty, spokesperson for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, said that Downforce Racing "missed three of the five benchmarks that it agreed to have complete" by March 15 under its contract with the city to operate the Baltimore Grand Prix, according to Steve Kilar of the Baltimore SUN. O'Doherty said that Downforce, the new operator of the Izod IndyCar Series event, and Rawlings-Blake's administration are "still working out the terms of three agreements that were scheduled" to be completed by Thursday. He said that technical information in the ticket escrow agreement, which will "govern how the city collects its share of ticket proceeds, is being checked for accuracy." O'Doherty added that two other agreements -- one "between IndyCar and Downforce and another between the Maryland Stadium Authority and Downforce -- are expected to be executed by the end of next week" (Baltimore SUN, 3/16). In Baltimore, Jack Lambert noted despite missing the deadline, city officials said that they are "pleased with the progress that has been made" by Downforce. The city said that it "expects the ticket escrow amount agreement to be completed shortly." Downforce also "agreed it would have a sanctioning agreement with IndyCar and a deal with the Maryland Stadium Authority to lease parts of the Camden Yards Sports Complex by the first deadline." O'Doherty said that the IndyCar agreement is in the "final stages of being complete." Stadium Authority officials said that a "contract with the group has been reached" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/15).