The Miami Open began its newest incarnation at the Hard Rock Stadium leaving behind Key Biscayne and more than 30 years of memories as fans, players, and officials alike reflected on a South Florida sports spectacular.
Key Biscayne resident and ardent tennis fan, Joanne Young, had been a season ticket box seat holder since the tournament began.
“I’ve been a seat holder from the very beginning and yes I renewed,” said Young.
“I signed a five year contract and I’m very impressed with the stadium…It’s electrifying.
Among the improvements at the new location: seating has increased from 25,062 to 30,185. Nine practice courts were added. The parking now has more than 10,000 spaces although a $40 parking fee.
The centerpiece is stadium court inside the football stadium with a capacity of 13,800. It is roughly the same size as Crandon Park’s Stadium Court. There are 4,738 premium seats, 29 permanent suites, and 13 cabana suites.
The grandstand stadium seats 5,191 with Court 1 and Court 2 fitting 3,024 and 1,564, respectively. Between stadium court and the grandstand is where the entertainment takes place, “The Grove.”
Fans can lounge while enjoying food and beverage from dozens of restaurants and bars. Live entertainment at “Kiki on the River” and “Art Open Miami” features art for sale.
Craig Skolnick from West Palm Beach has been coming for the past seven years. He said he liked Key Biscayne but the parking and traffic was a negative.
“We thought the venue was nice but this blows away Key Biscayne with the layout, nice design, the food…the stadium is unbelievable and the views are amazing.”
Tennis aficionado, amateur player, and NBA Hall-of-Famer Bob McAdoo, said he is totally happy with the new venue.
“This is fantastic, there’s a lot more room, its spread out and it seems like the players like it. There appears to be a lot more seating on each court.”
“And of course I love it because it’s closer to home. I live in Boca, it’s an easy ride for me. I like the size of the place. It’s almost like a Grand Slam, the way they’ve laid it out.”
Tournament Director and former ATP favorite, James Blake, summed-up the differences.
“At the old venue of course there was a lot of nostalgia because it had been there for so long but at this one there are so many more possibilities. We have the capabilities to really exceed any type of event I’ve been a part of.”
“We have luxury suites for the fans…and we have the capacity to continue to grow and make this a world class event.”
Venus Williams embraced the change.
“I have a lot of history there obviously but I’m all for change,” Williams said.
“I think there is a little bit of a different crowd here, it’s great actually. The atmosphere out there on grandstand where I never had played before, was amazing.”
Young said the decision to renew her seats at the new venue wasn’t without a serve and volley of the heart. She initially decided not to renew, then changed her mind.
“I got the fever…to watch Federer and Serena play…and like magic someone called from the new offices and I decided to do it.”
“A lot of people I talked to who are here from Miami at the tournament say they miss the ride over to Key Biscayne, and it’s not going to be the same because they enjoyed driving over the bridge and watching the sunset during the evening matches. Now I’m driving here... its 25 minutes, and a breeze.”
The Miami Open is no longer played on Key Biscayne, but Key Biscayne will always be part of the Miami Open.