Game, Set, Match? Voters will have final say on whether to keep the Sony Open in Miami

Miami’s sports landscape has changed quite a bit over the past quarter-century. We’ve seen teams, stadiums, and superstars come and go. And through it all, the Sony Open has held its position among the world’s top tennis tournaments.

sonyopen1_0.previewEach spring, the world turns its attention to Key Biscayne to watch the best men and women tennis players face off. Tens of thousands of visitors from around the world embark on South Florida for the event, thousands of television hours are broadcast across the globe, and hundreds of millions of dollars are invested in the local economy.

The tournament has grown to become the single largest recurring sports event in Miami each year, with a direct economic impact of more than $386 million annually.

In spite of these advantages, the Sony Open’s future in Miami is in peril. As cities around the world invest in their tennis facilities with the goal of drawing an international tournament along the lines of the Sony Open, the Tennis Center at Crandon Park is lacking basic amenities such as shade and permanent seating for spectators. Keeping the tournament in Miami will require proactive improvements.

That’s where voters come in. IMG, the Sony Open’s owner, is proposing a series of tournament-funded enhancements to the Tennis Center, including the construction of permanent structures, upgrades to Stadium Court, a new entrance, additional green space, and landscaped areas. These park improvements will come at no new cost to taxpayers and will be entirely paid for with revenues and cost savings generated by the tournament itself.

sonyopen2.previewThe enhanced park will be owned and operated by Miami-Dade County year-round, creating new public benefits for local residents.

Sounds like a slam dunk, right? Not exactly.

The decision to keep the Sony Open sits with voters, who are being asked to decide 1) whether the County should enter into a long-term lease with the tournament and 2) whether the event organizers should be entitled to spearhead park upgrades. If the public does not vote “yes,” then the Sony Open’s lease will run out in nine years and the tournament will be forced to find a new home.

Election day is on November 6, with early voting beginning on October 27. How will you vote? Give us your take in the comment section below.