Sony Open Continues To Lose Prestige With Crandon Park Renovation Plans Stymied
With plans stalled to renovate The Tennis Center at Crandon Park, the ATP/WTA Sony Open is left "looking much like an annual county fair in a world of increasingly upscale tennis theme parks that stretch from Shanghai to the California desert to the four Grand Slam venues," according to Christopher Clarey of the N.Y. TIMES. The tourney "does not get called 'the fifth Grand Slam' much anymore," but it "still draws lively crowds and great talent." Sony Open Founder and Int'l Tennis HOFer Butch Buchholz said, "We set the bar 15, 20 years ago and now the bar got moved again." Clarey wrote raising the bar for the venue means $50M "in privately funded investment," and building "more permanent secondary stadiums to complement the existing 20-year-old stadium court with its nearly 14,000 seats." It also means "more, much-needed practice courts along with extensive landscaping to trump the prevailing asphalt." Sony Open Tournament Dir Adam Barrett and IMG hope to "break ground before next year’s event, and they are in part to blame for the tournament’s drop in prestige because they have been so public about what it lacks" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/2).
DOING THE CHARLESTON: ESPN.com's Ed McGrogan wrote Crandon Park "is not Indian Wells," and the Sony Open "shouldn't look towards the Coachella Valley for inspiration." The tourney needs to "differentiate from Indian Wells, not imitate it." However, it should "look to imitate a different American tournament in one significant way." The Family Circle Cup in Charleston, now in its 42nd year, has been "an unqualified success story at a time when tournaments are leaving the United States in droves" (ESPN.com, 4/2). Meanwhile, in Charleston, Tommy Braswell notes attendance numbers this week "climbed slightly through four days of the Family Circle Cup with the total through five sessions at 31,629, an average of 6,326." Last year's "total through four days" was 31,499. To "equal the FCC record of 95,767 (set over 14 sessions in 2010), the tournament must average 7,367 fans over 13 sessions" (Charleston POST & COURIER, 4/3).