They Said What? Oct. 3

Wednesday, October 03, 2012 /by

“It’s not cheap, and it’s very ambitious. We haven’t finalized our plans yet, or the cost. We’re right in the process of doing this. By the end of the month, we should have a handle on both of those things, and then it will depend on Mr. Ellison and if he wants to go forward or not.”—Raymond Moore, new CEO of the BNP Paribas Open, on plans to build a second stadium at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Moore is a founder of the Indian Wells tournament, along with his close pal (and recent predecessor as CEO) Charlie Pasarell. Leighton Ginn of the Desert Sun tells us that Moore hopes to build a new 8,000-seat stadium at the long-running tournament that started life in nearby Palm Springs and found a permanent home in the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

And to think that just a few years ago, the scuttlebutt had the Masters 1000 tournament folding its tents to make way for a new event in Asia. That was all before a white knight appeared on the scene in the form of Larry Ellison, founder of the computer software giant Oracle and passionate recreational player, who bought the event lock, stock, and barrel.

A proactive owner, Ellison has given Moore the nod to pursue his dream of boosting attendance above the 500,000 mark within five years—a figure that would put Indian Wells on roughly equal footing with the French Open and Wimbledon, but with three to five fewer days on its schedule (Indian Wells is a 10-day tournament; at Wimbledon they play for 13 days, while the French runs for 15 days with its early Sunday start and play on the middle Sunday).

Indian Wells is already the fifth-most heavily attended tournament of the year, behind the four Grand Slams; it attracted a new record of 370,000-plus fans just last March. Yet the two main show courts after the stadium are created with portable bleachers and disassembled after the event each year.

This is a bold and wise move, because the tournament currently suffers from not having an adequate No. 2 show court/stadium (coincidentally, the Miami Masters 1000, which follows Indian Wells and is also a 10-day event, doesn’t have a respectable second stadium either). The stadium at Indian wells is massive, an impressive and well-designed venue that seats 16,100. It’s the second largest outdoor stadium in tennis, after Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows.

Moore would like to get the stadium done in time for the 2014 event, and I’m not sure I would bet against him. As he said, “It’s an aggressive timeline and it’s an aggressive program, but working for Mr. Ellison, he doesn’t know anything else. It’s very exciting and very energizing.”

*****

"It was a great experience to go out today and explore the culture of Tokyo. Getting a lesson with real Samurai swords and the rickshaw ride was a fun opportunity, and I'm excited to try to extend my stay in Tokyo tomorrow.”—ATP No. 15 Milos Raonic

Hmmm. Having heard that taxi cabs in Tokyo are extremely expensive and public transportation often overburdened during rush hour, I’m not surprised to learn that rickshaws are such an important part of Tokyo culture. As for those lessons using the big sticker, you know what they say about Samurai swords in Tokyo (I’m translating for those of you who don’t parlez-vous): Don’t leave home without it!

I understand that at the upcoming Vienna tournament, Raonic will be taught to yodel, then the following week in Valencia he’ll be schooled in the art of attacking a windmill on horseback, bearing a lance. In Paris, the organizers plan to take him hunting for a hunchback in the Notre Dame cathedral’s bell tower, and if he’s good enough to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals, he’ll get a chance to take a tour of London in a red double-decker bus!

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