Andre, Raffa, Steffi, Roger, Pete, Serena – Name an international tennis star from the past 25 years and they’ve taken center stage at the Sony Open on Key Biscayne.
The tournament has grown from a regional event into one of the premier stops on the global tour. Closer to home, the Sony Open is an economic powerhouse, generating an impact valued at $380 million each year, attracting tens of thousands of tourists, and broadcasting Miami’s brand to television sets in 180 countries. It’s the largest sporting event to take place here annually.
Now Miami is at risk of losing the tournament and all of its benefits. That’s because the Miami-Dade County Charter requires voter approval for upgrades to public parks and the extension of leases for park use.
Passage of referendum #238 would give the Sony Open the green light to move forward with park improvements and allow the County to enter a new lease that will ensure the event’s future in Miami. Most importantly, all park upgrades will be paid for by tournament-generated dollars, without a single penny of taxpayer money. And the general public will have access to the upgraded park for the 49 weeks each year when the Sony Open is not in session.
The Miami Herald Editorial
The stiffest competition at the high-stakes Sony Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne might not be on the court. Other cities, in other countries are vying for the high-end names — Venus, Serena, Roger, Maria — that make the event, played annually at Crandon Park such a lure.
But the Crandon Park Tennis Center needs to be renovated and expanded if it is to keep pace with state-of-the-art stadiums elsewhere — and if this community is to keep the lucrative Sony Open here. Thanks to the Save Our Parks charter amendment, voters throughout Miami-Dade will have a say on a deal that does not cost taxpayers one penny. Sony needs two-thirds of voters to approve to move forward.
The ballot measure would extend the lease of the Sony Open and approve $50 million of upgrades to the tennis center in Crandon Park paid for by the tournament. The “Park Partnership” referendum stipulates that the upgrades would come at no cost to taxpayers. The project — which would include four permanent buildings to replace tents — is to be funded with revenue from the tennis center and tournament and private funds. In addition, it will be a public facility for 49 weeks of the year.
The Sony Open is spoken of in the same breath as Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, French Open and Australian Open. In economic terms, it’s a player. This year, the tournament drew 326,000 people. Almost 20 percent of them were tourists who booked 15,000 hotel room nights. And the 7,000 hours of TV coverage in 180 countries was priceless. Voters should approve this measure. They will have to make their way to the end of this year’s long ballot to find the referendum, but it’s in their best interest. The Herald recommends YES to No. 238, the “Park Partnership” referendum.