Miami-Dade County

After a hiccup, the Miami Open tennis tournament gets permission to move to a new home

The view from the upper decks of the Miami Open tennis tournament in 2015. With Miami-Dade approving the for-profit event leaving Crandon Park in 2019, the 2018 event is set to be its final on Key Biscayne before moving to the home of the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.
The view from the upper decks of the Miami Open tennis tournament in 2015. With Miami-Dade approving the for-profit event leaving Crandon Park in 2019, the 2018 event is set to be its final on Key Biscayne before moving to the home of the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. El Nuevo Herald

The Miami Open tennis tournament ended its brief stand-off with Miami-Dade on Tuesday, as county commissioners approved a compromise allowing the springtime event to move from Key Biscayne to Hard Rock Stadium in 2019.

With a unanimous vote, the County Commission endorsed a deal between Mayor Carlos Gimenez and sports conglomerate IMG to move the Miami Open to the home of the Miami Dolphins after one more year at the county’s Crandon Park tennis complex.

The two sides were at an impasse earlier this month, with a last-minute breakdown in the agreement to let the tournament end its county lease early and move to Miami Gardens. The initial deal called for IMG to pay Miami-Dade $1.3 million for outstanding expenses from past tournaments at the county facility. But days before commissioners were set to approve that deal, Gimenez said county staff realized auditors still hadn’t reviewed expenses from the last three tournaments.

Gimenez wanted those tournaments removed from the deal and any contested expenses sent to arbitration. IMG balked at the proposed compromise, warning commissioners the tournament was at “grave risk” of leaving Miami under the mayor’s terms. Commissioners approved the deal on Dec. 5 anyway, and on Tuesday the 13-member board approved a revision of the original agreement. The new terms cap past expenses at $1.8 million, essentially adding $500,000 to the potential payment from IMG to the county for events held through 2017.

In brief remarks, Gimenez said the new agreement seals the deal for the Miami Open to move to Miami Gardens after years of failed attempts to improve its facilities at Crandon Park. IMG and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross plan to spend about $53 million building a new tennis complex on parking lots next to Hard Rock, with the main matches played on temporary courts above the football field itself.

“Now we can sign the agreement, and they can start to move,” he said.

Fans watch tennis, eat and play, and players talk about competing in the Miami Open on Thursday, March 24, 2016 at Key Biscayne, Florida. Video by Mario Mateo.

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