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Volume 24 No. 155
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Sony Open's Adam Barrett Talks Renovation Plans For ATP/WTA Event In Miami

Sony Open Tournament Dir Adam Barrett said the annual ATP/WTA event at Crandon Park Tennis Center in Miami has plans to "expand the current main court facility and build two other permanent courts to replace the temporary stands and facilities IMG sets up each year,” according to a Q&A with Douglas Hanks of the MIAMI HERALD. Barrett “presided over November’s successful ballot initiative" that saw Miami-Dade voters approve a $50M renovation of the county-owned facility. But he emphasized that a “lawsuit and the local regulatory process still could undo a privately-funded plan.” Barrett discussed "why Sony needs better facilities, what a lack of celebrity players means for the tournament, and how champagne easily outsells beer even on the hottest day at the tourney.” Below is an excerpt of the interview:

Q: How does the Matheson lawsuit affect the construction timetable?
Barrett: It’s 100 percent contingent on the Matheson lawsuit. ... Our goal is to break ground in April 2014.

Q: Why do you think Bruce Matheson is opposing this?
Barrett: In my opinion, I believe that Bruce has his own vision of the park, which is to return it to 1948. ... This is a one-person crusade who believes his vision of Crandon Park overrides the citizens of Dade County. Right now there is only one stadium. We have to build temporary stadiums. The only bathrooms are either in the clubhouse or in the stadium. If you’re out on the far court, there is nothing there. There are no bathrooms, there is no shade, there are no concessions. When we come in, we have to put up tents and we have to build stands. During the tournament, we bring 300,000 people -- citizens plus tourists from all over the world. It should be a completely first class experience. Instead, they’re sitting in temporary bleachers.

Q: How much does the tournament pay to Miami-Dade each year?
Barrett: They get a share of the revenue -- it’s a license fee. It’s in excess of $1.1 million.

Q: So in exchange for building the new stadiums, the tournament receives essentially a 50-year lease. What are the increases in revenue to the county through that?
Barrett: We’re negotiating the deal with the county right now. The goal is it will be enough (money for Miami-Dade) to cover the operational costs so that the county is not subsidizing the event. Right now we feel the county, through parking revenue and the licensing fee, is actually operating the event at close to or breaking even. 

Q: Did you see the recession at the tournament?
Barrett: We’ve been very fortunate that tennis has remained strong during the recession. It was challenging because throughout this time our prize money has consistently gone up.

Q: Did revenues actually dip?
Barrett: A little bit. I would call it more “flattened.”

Q: What is the most popular concession item there?
Barrett: The biggest driver of revenue for adults? It’s the Veuve champagne. We do a lot of beer sales, but the champagne is more popular.

Q: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal skipped the Sony this year. A ticket broker recently complained to me that once there were no major stars in the tournament, resale value really dropped off. Does Miami have fair-weather tennis fans, too?
Barrett: Can you have Roger and Rafa not show up and feel it to some extent, yes. I think the effect was tops 5 or 6 percent. What that says is you have a true, hardcore base that want to come out to the tournament (MIAMI HERALD, 5/12).