Miami Open tennis tournament to move to Dolphins’ stadium

20 December 2017

MIAMI (AP) The Miami Open tennis tournament has won permission to move to the Miami Dolphins’ stadium, with the kickoff planned in 2019.

Miami-Dade County commissioners unanimously approved an agreement Tuesday that ended a brief impasse and allows the tournament to leave its longtime home on Key Biscayne. The event will be held there one final time beginning in March.

The agreement involved the county, Dolphins and IMG, which owns the Miami Open. Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the commission vote seals the deal for the tournament to move to the NFL team’s site.

Showcase matches will be held in the 65,000-seat stadium, temporarily revamped for tennis. Permanent outer courts will be constructed in the adjacent parking lot.

A final agreement was delayed two weeks ago because of a previously undisclosed audit concerning how much money the tournament owes the county.

The revised deal called for the Miami Open to pay up to $1.819 million to the county for tournaments through 2017, increasing potential payments by IMG by about $500,000.

Tournament officials had no comment Tuesday, spokesman Sam Henderson said. The event has been held on Key Biscayne since 1987, and its future has been in question since a 2015 appeals court decision that prevents upgrades to the complex there.

The Miami Open still draws most of the world’s top players, along with more than 300,000 spectators each year, but has declined in prestige because of its aging complex.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who also owns the stadium, said last spring he was willing to invest in a tennis center on stadium grounds because he wanted to keep the tournament in South Florida. There had been speculation the Miami Open might relocate, with potential sites ranging from South America to China.

Instead it will move 18 miles north to a complex that has hosted Super Bowls and college national championship games. The stadium has undergone $500 million in renovations in recent years.