Column: Can it really get any better - Indian Wells, BNP Paribas Open 2016
I have to admit I love going to the men's and women's master tournament held in Indian Wells, California, in the spring each year and haven't missed one since 2000.
Yeah, I get to cover it up-front and personal, which makes it that much more fun, but it's really not that much different from anyone else who takes the time to see all the top players in the world in singles and doubles, the players that are trying to qualify, how they practice and work out, all the side shows, great food and entertainment, enjoying the city of Indian Wells and their hospitable top-notch hotels - it's easy to get hooked.
Just the history of this tournament rivals any other successful tournament on its path to the status it now holds commonly known as the "5th Slam." 2015's attendance was the highest they've had so far with 456,672 seat-holders, which is right up there with the four majors.
The time-line and journey of this tournament is quite interesting. It started in 1975 as an ATP fund-raising event in Tucson; 1976 move to Mission Hills Country Club; 1981 then to La Quinta Hotel with Charlie Pasarell as the tournament director. 1986 the vision takes it to the then new Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa. And shortly after in 1987 it went from just a men's tournament to a women's and men's venue - the first week for women the second for the men.
By now it was Charlie and his new partner Ray Moore and they started up a new company called PM Sports Management and the vision continued to grow.
Next move was monstrous. In 2000, the Indian Wells Garden was created on 54 acres and the second-largest stadium in the world was built with both men and women events at the same time. In 2006, new investors helped stabilize the tournament and last in 2009, Larry Ellison became the new owner and has since then created what I consider the best spectator and player friendly tournament in the world.
I could try to rewrite a different viewpoint of what the facility and tournament encompasses but why recreate the wheel when their website verbiage says it all:
"Considered Southern California's ultimate tennis center, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is home to the BNP Paribas Open, one of the premier professional tournaments in the world, which takes place annually in March. The Stadium 1 is the second largest in the world, which includes 16,100-seats with great viewing of center court, 44 luxurious stadium suites, locker rooms, press room, broadcast booths, 6,000 square-foot commissary and more."
"The Tennis Garden's beautiful landscaped grounds covering 54 acres also include a brand new, permanent Stadium 2, with 8,000 seats and three fine dining restaurants, including the world-famous Japanese restaurant Nobu. There are two 19,000-square-foot shade structures, 29 world-class courts, eight acres of outdoor exposition space, outdoor parking and a year-round full-service Tennis Club."
"Looking back to 1982 and those humble beginnings it is incredible to see how far the event has come - tournament attendance has grown from 30,000 to more than 431,000; prize money has grown from $250,000 to more than $10 million; the television audience of the tournament has grown from 25 million homes to nearly one billion homes worldwide; and the facilities have grown from 7,500 seats to a 29-court, 54-acre complex including a 16,100-seat Stadium 1 and an 8,000-seat permanent Stadium 2. The future of the event looks incredibly promising, and new pages will continue to be added each year to the story of the tournament."
"The BNP Paribas Open is the largest two-week combined ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and WTA Premier professional tennis tournament in the world. It is held annually in March (7-20th in 2016) and features the top men and women professional players competing in a 96 singles draw and 32 doubles draw. The tournament offers more than $10 million in prize money with each of the Champions earning a $1 million prize purse. It is the only professional tournament in the world that provides Hawkeye, the official line-challenge system for players, on all match courts for both main and qualifying rounds."
"Tickets and Packages can be purchased from the Indian Wells Tennis Garden Box Office by calling 800-999-1585, or online. The Indian Wells Tennis Garden box office is located at 78-200 Miles Avenue, Indian Wells, CA, 92210. Steve Furgal's"
"Daily Loge and Grandstand tickets for Stadium 1 range in price from $20 for a Grandstand seat for the first Thursday evening session to $70 and $110 for Grandstand and Loge seats, respectively, for the Championship Weekend. The Daily Double package is a great option for fans looking to guarantee the same great seat (suite, box or loge) for both day and evening sessions."
Visit the Daily Tickets page to purchase, or check out the Tickets & Packages page for more offerings. Fans can also call the Box Office, 800-999-1585, or come to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, 78-200 Miles Avenue, Indian Wells, Calif., 92210, to buy tickets.International Tennis Tours is the Official BNP Paribas Open Tour Operator.
Last year's winners: 2015, Simona Halep, Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza; 2015, Novak Djokovic Vasek Pospisil/Jack Sock.
This information is being presented a bit earlier this year so you can be sure to get it on your calendar if at all possible before tickets and hotel accommodations are harder to acquire. The short 4 1/2 hour drive is easy from Prescott and since it's during spring break, if you have tennis-loving kids what a win-win to see the top players in the world doing their thing while also kicking back in the Indian Wells - Palm Springs spring climate enjoying what they have to offer.
Chris Howard is a local USPTA tennis professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.