Tennis fans in South Florida will be heading to a new location to watch the annual Miami Open starting in 2019 if a plan is approved by Miami-Dade County.
An agreement signed by officials who run the annual event on Key Biscayne will move the event to Hard Rock Stadium – a move done as part of a plan by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to bring top events to the stadium after the $400 million expansion project he funded.
"I much would have rather to have kept it at Key Biscayne but unless something else changes that is just not going to be possible," Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Wednesday.
Commissioners must approve the deal at a December meeting, which would pay Ross and the Dolphins $1 million a year to move the event from Crandon Park, where it has been held annually since 1987.
Commissioners approved a plan in 2014 to pay the team and ownership up to $5 million each year for marquee events held at the stadium.
Ross has proposed building a facility in the area surrounding the stadium to host events, with the main matches being held inside the stadium. Hard Rock Stadium has been selected to host the Super Bowl in February 2020 and college football’s national title game the following January.
Gimenez has supported an expansion plan to the current Crandon Park area, however rules tied to a legal agreement with the former owners of the property the park is on prohibit such plans.
Bruce Matheson, whose family donated the Crandon Park land to the county decades ago, has been opposed to a for-profit stadium at the park from the start.
"Two miles of oceanfront beach, the mangroves, the coconut trees, that is the park that is for the people," Matheson said.
As part of the agreement to move locations, the tournament will pay the county $1.3 million and agree not to leave the county for 20 years. Considered one of the top tennis events each year, the tournament was played in Delray Beach and Boca Raton for one year each before moving south.