The 2014 BNP Paribas Indian Wells Tournament is proving to be a hot ticket in the tennis world. With some of the world’s best players from around the world coming together to play in the California desert, it has made for an exciting event. And with a new and improved tennis garden, as well as an entirely new 8,000 seat prime-time stadium, the facility is quite a spectacle.
In 2009, the tournament and grounds were purchased by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. Since then, Ellison has made productive strides and major improvements to both the facilities and the tournament itself. Immediately following the 2013 tournament, the tennis gardens underwent a major remodel in which a brand new, state of the art 8,000 seat stadium and three beautiful restaurants were built in just 10 months.
The $70 million dollar expansion has proven to be worth its money so far, but it is the fact that Larry Ellison made sure to keep the tournament in the Coachella Valley that really has tennis fans excited. Prior to his purchase of the tournament, it was close to joining a long list of U.S. tournaments to leave American soil. But after purchasing the 54-acre grounds, Ellison made sure that it remained where it belonged, turning the two-week tournament into one of the hottest tickets around.
Players around the world are singing high praises of Ellison’s contributions to the game. 13 time singles Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal stated, “It means a lot for me, and especially for tennis, to have somebody like Larry who is supporting our sport. The players can say thank you for all his support.” The “Fifth Grand Slam” attracted 400,000 fans last year and with the recent upgrades those numbers are expected to increase.
The tournament has not only turned into a favorite of the fans, but the players as well. With nine out of the top 10 ranked players participating in both the men’s and women’s field, it is a highly touted event. Caroline Wozniacki, who won the tournament in 2011, recently said, “I think they call Indian Wells the fifth Grand Slam, and it really is, because every player loves coming back here. Everyone plays. Everyone has a great time here. I think it’s very special.” High praise from the 10th ranked woman in the world.
Having the opportunity to check out these facilities first hand over the past week has been quite a unique experience for this years attendees. From the practice facilities, to the food courts and band stand, to the brand new stadium, Indian Wells has proven to be top-notch. With 96 of the top players in the world playing, it has become the Grand Slam of the West. And with such a great atmosphere to go along with the stellar play and beautiful weather, it’s no wonder why it has become the largest attended tournament in the world outside of the four majors. The Indian Wells Tennis Tournament is truly proving to be one of the hottest tickets around, and for good reason.
Djokovic interview: high praise for the new facilities.
Commentary by Rich Peters
Follow Rich Peters on Twitter @Tricky_Roma.