Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 26 No. 201

Events and Attractions

The Miami Open set 15 session attendance records over its two weeks at the Dolphin's Hard Rock Stadium
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The Miami Open set 15 session attendance records over its two weeks at the Dolphin's Hard Rock Stadium
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The Miami Open set 15 session attendance records over its two weeks at the Dolphin's Hard Rock Stadium
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The ATP/WTA Miami Open "set multiple attendance records" in its first year at Hard Rock Stadium, with overall tournament attendance of 388,734, "topping the previous record of 326,131" in '12, according to David Furones of the South Florida SUN SENTINEL. For yesterday's Roger Federer-John Isner men's final, 17,373 fans "filed in to watch," which "surpassed the previous mark of 14,625" in '11. This year's tourney "set 15 session attendance records over its two weeks" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 3/31). TENNIS.com's Steve Tignor wrote the "experiment worked" in its first year at the Dolphins' venue. Tignor: "Perhaps because the thought of watching tennis in a parking lot was inherently unappetizing, the tournament went all-out to hide that fact." The grounds were "filled with fountains, flowers, restaurants, and bars at every turn, and even an art gallery." What was "even better" were the outdoor courts themselves, which were "filled to overflowing through the first week." The new tournament facility's "problematic puzzle" is the main arena inside the stadium itself, which has "three temporary sets of stands that rise straight up from the court and offer a decent view even near the top." The fourth side, however, "utilizes the permanent football bleachers, which slope at a low angle away from the court, and quickly take you away from the action" (TENNIS.com, 3/28).

GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION: In Miami, Jesse Scott writes the Miami Open was "not your average tennis tournament," as the move to Hard Rock Stadium "marked a new era" for the event. Once fans "adjusted to the quirky, grand scale of it all, it was fun and full of Miami flair." There was "so much more than just tennis" at the event, but there also was "no shortage of enthralling action" on the court. Scott: "After this successful first year, you’ll want to be at Hard Rock Stadium when the Miami Open returns next year" (MIAMINEWTIMES.com, 4/1).

CHANGING FACE: In Miami, Michelle Kaufman noted with Ashleigh Barty's win in the women's final, it marked the "first time in WTA history" that the first 14 tournaments of the season have been won by different players. Barty said of the parity, "The depth has grown over the last few years and I think anyone in the draw has a legitimate chance of winning. The margins are getting smaller and smaller" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/31).

Oregon-Mississippi State was held at Moda Center, widely seen as a successful regional host
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Oregon-Mississippi State was held at Moda Center, widely seen as a successful regional host
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Oregon-Mississippi State was held at Moda Center, widely seen as a successful regional host
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Some individuals within women's college basketball are "pushing for change" in the NCAA Tournament's format, specifically to have all Sweet 16/Elite Eight games "played in Las Vegas in a single-site gathering for the sport" akin to the college baseball/softball World Series in Omaha/Oklahoma City, according to Jeff Metcalfe of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The concept was originated by longtime college basketball analyst Debbie Antonelli, who had been "kicking around" the idea for several years. The concept is now "gaining momentum as a way to elevate the women's tournament to a new level." Arizona State women's basketball coach Charli Turner Thorne said, "It would be amazing for our game to build equity in Vegas, a place that's a destination, where a lot of people want to go." She added, "We keep moving backwards. We can't play on neutral sites, we're not filling the stands. It's just kind of to me a no-brainer. I really hope we're looking at it because I think it would be unbelievable for our game." However, Univ. of Oregon coach Kelly Graves said, "We need to stick with one and go with it, try and grow it." She said that she actually does "'like the regionals,' provided they are located in areas that traditionally draw well for women's basketball" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/30).

SHOWING UP IN A BIG WAY: Oregon defeated Mississippi State yesterday at Moda Center to secure a spot in the Final Four, and in Portland, John Canzano wrote, "If you convince Oregonians that an event is special -- or part of a limited-time run -- we’ll show up." That happened with yesterday's game "in a big way." Oregon Gov. Kate Brown "showed up." There were 11,538 tickets sold for the game. Oregon making the final "gave the event more juice." Canzano: "But there were 7,000 tickets sold before the brackets were even revealed, and so what we had here was a raging success that the NCAA should not ignore." Portland will again be the site of a women’s NCAA Tournament Regional in '20. The next available women’s Final Four bid "should go to Portland." The women’s Final Four is currently scheduled through '24. Canzano: "So how does 2025 work for you, Oregon?" (Portland OREGONIAN, 4/1).

This year's event will feature the return of the D-backs' churro dogs and items representing each club
Photo: MLB
This year's event will feature the return of the D-backs' churro dogs and items representing each club
Photo: MLB
This year's event will feature the return of the D-backs' churro dogs and items representing each club
Photo: MLB

MLB is bringing back FoodFest, the event it created last year to celebrate baseball’s heightened connection with food, with three separate locations slated to play host in ’19. L.A.'s Magic Box will have the new edition of MLB FoodFest on April 26-28, while N.Y. and London will also be sites in the second half of the ’19 season with dates and venues to be announced later. This year’s MLB FoodFest will again have one concession item representing each club. There will be six notable items returning from last year, including the Mariners’ toasted grasshoppers and D-backs’ churro dogs. Like in ’18, the items at the new MLB FoodFest will be replicated by a catering company with input from major club concessionaires such as Aramark, Centerplate, Delaware North, Legends Hospitality and Levy Restaurants. This year’s edition will also incorporate items from London, Tokyo, and Monterrey, Mexico -- the league’s three international sites for ’19 regular-season games. The rapid sellout of last year’s inaugural event in N.Y. has prompted a sharp increase in ticket prices for the return engagements. After the ’18 admission was $25 for food only providing samples of all 30 club items and $40 for food and beer, a new, more expensive two-tiered ticket plan is place. A standard-level ticket including eight food items is $45, and $60 when including three beers. An MVP-level ticket including 33 food items is $75, and $90 when including three beers. A new presenting sponsorship has been sold to Budweiser. With the expansion of MLB FoodFest, the league will also include a new merchandise shop at each stop in ’19, selling limited-edition caps, shirts and other collectibles inspired by the food items offered. Like last year, the ’19 version of MLB FoodFest is designed to be featured heavily on social media.