After 30 years driving across the picturesque Rickenbacker Causeway to the cozy, tropical Crandon Park Tennis Center, many Miami Open tennis fans had a hard time accepting that their beloved tournament was moving to Hard Rock Stadium in 2019.
But plenty of fans have apparently warmed up to the idea. Ticket sales are 22 percent 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.
“People were curious or skeptical about how this was going to work, but what we’ve found is that the fans of the Miami Open that have come to visit Hard Rock Stadium have quickly seen with their own eyes the investment that Stephen Ross and IMG have put into continuing to make this a world-class tournament and making the campus beautiful,” said Jeremy Walls, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium.
“We’re well ahead of pace, and the market has responded really well to the move.”
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With the help of an aggressive ticket sales effort, the Miami Open has tapped into the Miami Dolphins’ fan base, and also reached many new fans north of the Miami-Dade County line.
“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, so we have seen an uptick in sales in those areas,” Walls said.
He said the ease of parking and stadium’s multiple entry/exit points have also helped ticket sales.
“Historically, parking and getting in and out of the tournament was difficult, and that’s going to be one of the great things about having it at Hard Rock is everyone will park right next to the tennis campus and be able to walk right into watch tennis immediately,” Walls said.
Construction of the new site is on schedule to be ready for the tournament, which runs March 18-31, 2019.
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. There are also plans for a multitier turf “Spanish Steps” gathering area with a rooftop deck and beer garden, a “Great Lawn” with champagne and wine gardens, a food court with familiar South Florida dining options and an “Olive Grove” area with olive trees, green space, tables and a music stage.
Eighteen practice courts will be added after Dolphins season is over. The 4,993-seat Grandstand Stadium is near completion, as are the other two outdoor showcase courts — 3,024-seat Court 1, and 1,564-seat Court 1.
The 13,800-seat Stadium Court is a temporary structure that will be erected inside Hard Rock Stadium, between the 30-yard lines, after the NFL season. It will include premium seating from the 1972 Club and Nine Suites, 12 temporary suites, and access to the stadium’s Club Level.
The player amenities are enhanced with dining space increased from 9,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet, gym space from 3,000 square feet to 10,000 and triple the lounge space. Players will have private entry along the north side of the stadium.
“I think when people show up at the Miami Open this year, they’re going to immediately understand and get excited about what we’ve created,” Walls said. “It is a lifestyle event that will be centered around tennis, with art, music and some of the best food and beverage in South Florida. It will be a place everyone will want to be and spend several days at this March.”