The Desert Sun Reporting on Watkins Landmarks Indian Wells Upgrade
When the BNP Paribas Open begins March 7, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden will feature new, larger stadium seats, seat-back chairs at the practice courts and a sports bar – featuring dozens of TV screens – as part of new upgrades taking place.
The improvement costs are unclear.
“We don’t have a final cost yet – we’re still working on budgets and we’re making – even this morning – we made some changes to design,” tennis tournament CEO Raymond Moore said Monday. “It is a large investment by (tournament owner and billionaire Larry Ellison), who continues to push the envelope – he wants us to be the very best – he challenges us to do that and we’re working to meet that challenge.”
The tournament is trying to stay competitive on a worldwide level, Moore said Monday.
The BNP Paribas open is the fifth largest tournament – in terms of attendance – in the world. The tournament attracted 456,000 people in March. Only the grand slam tournaments draw larger crowds.
“Our attendance is very close to beating the French and close to Wimbledon in terms of paying spectators,” Moore said. “Our goal is to get to 500,000 people – attendees – and if we hit 500,000, that will be more people than the French and Wimbledon. We’re right there on the cusp.”
On Monday, the new dark green stadium seats were being installed in one of the upper-level sections. Two men, working in sync – one tossed a seat over the railing, and the other, a few rows below, caught it and put it in place – installed many seats in quick order.
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