The ATP/WTA Miami Open is moving to Hard Rock Stadium next year, and ticket sales are 22% "ahead of mid-December last year; and the number of tournament-long passes sold thus far has already exceeded last year’s total three months before the opening match," according to Michelle Kaufman of the MIAMI HERALD. Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium Senior VP & CMO Jeremy Walls said, "We’re well ahead of pace, and the market has responded really well to the move." Kaufman noted with the help of an "aggressive ticket sales effort, the Miami Open has tapped into" the Dolphins’ fan base, and also "reached many new fans north of the Miami-Dade County line." Walls: "A majority of the Crandon Park season-ticket holders have chosen to come back, and on top of that, we have a lot of tennis fans in Broward and Palm Beach counties, and they are now able to come easier because it’s a lot closer." He added that the ease of parking and stadium’s multiple entry/exit points have also "helped ticket sales." Construction of the new site is "on schedule to be ready for the tournament," which runs March 18-31. Much of the South parking lot has been "transformed into a tennis plaza, with paved walkways, fountains and extensive landscaping surrounding 12 match courts, which are well under construction." Eighteen practice courts "will be added" to the 13,800-seat venue after the Dolphins' season is over (MIAMI HERALD, 12/15).
Events and Attractions
The Magic beat the Jazz 96-89 on Saturday to "sweep their two-game homestand in Mexico City," completing the NBA's 28th game played in the country, according to Carlos Rodriguez of the AP. Only the U.S. and Canada "have hosted more." Nine of the last 26 NBA games in Mexico "have been regular-season contests" (AP, 12/15). In Utah, Eric Woodyard noted the Jazz "found themselves being warmly received from the sellout crowd of 20,011 fans at Arena Ciudad de Mexico" (DESERET NEWS, 12/16). In Salt Lake City, Andy Larsen noted an hour before tipoff, "thousands of fans were waiting in line for one hoops-related activity or another with the NBA’s marketing partners, with stations packed in all around the arena." There were even "tequila shots at one stand, being given out as free samples for interested fans." Additionally, "thanks to the exchange rate, even the things that weren’t free were relatively inexpensive from an American’s point of view." Fans "could be seeing wearing all manner of NBA gear" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 12/16).
GAME NOTES: The TRIBUNE's Larsen noted Jazz G Raul Neto on Saturday "greeted the fans before the tip with a speech in their native Spanish, while the Magic’s Isaiah Briscoe made his team’s announcement in English." The game was "clearly influenced by the unique location: located at about 7,300 feet above sea level," as there was "terrible shooting" from both squads. Jazz F Derrick Favors said of the elevation, "We absolutely felt it." Larsen noted the teams' poor shooting did not stop fans from "enjoying the game." The fans "whistled when players were at the free-throw line and started a wave in the game’s final minutes." There were also "definitely more in attendance wearing Jazz gear than Orlando gear, though the Magic were the home team" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 12/16). ESPN.com's Eric Gomez noted the Magic "did get occasional roars from the sellout crowds" in both Saturday's game and Thursday against the Bulls. The Mexico City games also "represented some of the largest crowds the Magic have seen all season," with both drawing more than 20,000. Prior to those games, the Magic's largest home crowd "was 19,249 on Nov. 17" against the Lakers (ESPN.com, 12/15).
Super Bowl LIII halftime performer Maroon 5 has "reached out to more than a half-dozen stars to appear as featured guests" during this year's show, but so far "none have agreed to do it," according to sources cited by Jem Aswad of VARIETY. The band is "learning the precarious stance that the performance represents" thanks to the "ongoing controversy concerning the NFL’s stance on a player’s right to protest." Sources said that Maroon 5’s team has been "working to find" a local Atlanta act who will perform with them. But the Super Bowl halftime show "doesn’t pay, which makes it even trickier to book an A-list act." Plus the "criticism over aligning with the NFL promises to ring as loudly" (VARIETY.com, 12/14).