By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
October 15, 2012
Some tennis fans already think it is tennis’ fifth Major. But now, the BNP Paribas Open has unveiled ambitious plans to grow the joint ATP - WTA tennis event held each March in the California desert to attract 500,000 fans within five years. The centerpiece of the growth plan is construction of a new 8,000-seat stadium, scheduled to debut by 2014.
Opened in March, 2000, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden was initially built for $77 million and has an estimated annual economic impact of more than $289 million. The tournament attracted a record 370,406 fans this year.
Its 16,100 seat stadium court is the second largest tennis specific stadium in the world, and if the growth plan comes through, the BNP Paribas Open, at half-a-million attendees, would attract more fans than two of tennis’ Grand Slams – the French Open and Wimbledon.
What’s more, a new smaller stadium will likely allow the Tennis Garden to hold more events year round. Outside of tennis, the NBA has played three pre-season exhibition games there, and the venue has hosted concerts by such artists as The Eagles, The Who, Tom Petty, and Andrea Bocelli.