|3/18/2013 10:24:00 PM|
Column: BNP Paribas Open - Disneyland of Tennis
The BNP Paribas Open held at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens in California is the most fun, exciting, updated and fan-friendly tennis event you could possibly attend, including the majors and that's on most fronts.
Ninety-six of the top men and women tennis professionals are in attendance playing singles and doubles (no mixed events-yet).
Indian Wells (Palm Springs), Calif., is easy to get to and parking around the site has expanded and is excellent.
When you reach the many entrances - getting tickets (which are reasonably priced) and entry is quick and streamlined.
The grounds are massive, with great spectator viewing of the practice courts, as well as many wonderful food/merchandise/service vendors to view, talk to, buy from and experience.
Currently there are eight Hawkeye tournament courts, where for general admission you can go to seven of them and watch matches.
You want music, autograph sessions, afternoon interviews with tennis personalities of the present and past, grassy or covered areas to kick back and relax, a multitude of video-walls to watch matches from, large restroom areas, viewing of players training, bands/dancing, and an army of service oriented volunteers to help your every need - all of this is currently in place, but just wait until next year ... a lot more is on the way for 2014.
Even Walt Disney would be impressed with what owner Larry Ellison through the prior work of Charlie Pasarell and Ray Moore continue to do with the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
A new 8,000-seat Stadium 2 will be built that will have 5,000 lower bowl seats and 3,000 upper. It'll be an intimate setting with lots of shade and full restaurant services.
There will be parking for another 2,000 vehicles.
A new 19,000-square-foot shade structure and village of new food and beverage concepts.
New video walls and information towers.
One more Hawkeye court to make a total of nine. (Even the majors don't provide this.)
Twenty on-site, dedicated practice courts with special spectator viewing.
This is definitely a tennis enthusiasts' and players' Disneyland.
The players who participate in the pre-qualifiers, qualifiers and then main draw also love to attend this tournament. The weather, the facility, courts to practice on, the workout areas, on and off site food and entertainment, talk with any of them - they are well taken care of.
The members of the media who come to cover this event from all over the world love it here too. Your own work station, plug-ins for all your equipment, great viewing of center court from inside or out, not to mention the staff of volunteers who go out of their way to accommodate anything that almost seems impossible.
There are a couple things that still might be considered in the future to enhance this venue.
Create a large walk through building or tent that shows the history of this tournament and/or how the game of tennis started and has grown to become what it is today. A museum like at Newport or Wimbledon. Tennis buffs love this kind of stuff.
Have an area where spectators can view a large screen that shows a simple instruction video on the strategy of playing doubles; how racquets and balls are made; the technique of a good service motion.
Create a new rule for the people in the nose-bleed sections of the stadium - that any normal reserved seating that's not being used (after the first set is complete) they can filter down to. (The box seats are pretty much sold out, but many of those people don't attend each match.)
Come up with a special "food-hook," just like Wimbledon has with its "strawberries and cream." They have "Breakfast at Wimbledon," Indian Wells might have "Dinner with Federer" or whoever the former champions were the year before.
So, to the powers that be - another banner year, great job and continue to pay close attention to those who attend, because if you do the success you've had will most definitely continue.
Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional who has been in the tennis and health club business for over 40 years. Email him at email@example.com.
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