Miami Open, Matheson can reach a win-win tennis deal

Taylor Townsend returns a shot to Amanda Anisimova during their match at the Miami Open at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne this week.
Taylor Townsend returns a shot to Amanda Anisimova during their match at the Miami Open at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne this week. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

IMG says the Miami Open will remain in spite of Bruce Matheson. The tournament can stay but it cannot build. They can breathe but they cannot grow. Does it seem right that one person can give the thumbs down to millions of people in South Florida and millions of tennis fans around the world that watch on television in 46 countries?

This all stems from a lawsuit. An appellate court sustained a document signed in 1995 when the tournament moved to Key Biscayne that no additional construction can take place. But business must be dynamic and not static. No one in1995 when the document was signed envisioned the tournament’s explosive growth — to the point of it becoming the No 1 tennis tournament in the world outside the Grand Slam. Since then, though, the Miami Open has been passed by.

Matheson seems to put more value on the site being a former land fill under his watch than celebrating with the rest of us the jewel the tournament has become.

Since moving to Key Biscayne 22 years ago, the tournament draws an average of 300,000 people a year, an estimated total of 4.5 million since moving to Key Biscayne. The growth in fans and patronage has been phenomenal. The annual economic impact of the tournament is $390 million. That’s $8.5 billion total economic impact during the 22 years. Yet Matheson says the Miami Open cannot build one more additional structure to accommodate anything or anyone. There are not enough tennis courts for the players to practice on. They have to be shuttled off to hotels, and other facilities. Fans are packed in wall to wall.

My mother was a volunteer for the tournament in the mid ’70s when they played at their community resort at Boca West. I have been a ticket holder since they built the stadium on Key Biscayne in 1995. I know the people who manage and run the tournament. They are the greatest, most talented people of our community. Yet, sadly, they are getting the short end of the stick.

I have a proposal to end this sad comedy of affairs: The tournamet can offer upfront money to restore the site to its current state if it should ever leave, and in return the tournament receives the green light to build the upgrades needed to accommodate its rapid growth and return to its No 1 position in the world. Yet for any proposal to be considered, you need reasonable people to consider it. Matheson has shown himself to be anything but reasonable.

Bryan Brooks is a Miami-based businessman and long-time Miami Open ticketholder.