Letter from Sony Ericsson Open tournament director Adam Barrett emailed on August 28, 2012 updating fans on the event's interactions with the county to approve the expansion of the tournament.
Dear Tournament Supporter,
On November 6, 2012, the voters of Miami Dade County will be asked the following question, the answer to which will have a profound impact on the Sony Open:
IN ACCORDANCE WITH ARTICLE 7 OF THE HOME RULE CHARTER, DO YOU APPROVE?
- ERECTION OF PERMANENT STRUCTURES AND EXPANSION OF EXISTING STRUCTURES AT CRANDON PARK TENNIS CENTER FOR PUBLIC PARK AND TENNIS TOURNAMENT USE, WHICH SHALL BE FUNDED SOLELY BY TENNIS CENTER AND TOURNAMENT REVENUES AND PRIVATE FUNDS; AND MODIFICATION AND EXTENSION OF AGREEMENTS WITH OPERATOR OF SONY OPEN TENNIS TOURNAMENT OR ITS SUCCESSORS?
YES or NO
As part of our Tournament Family, I wanted you to know why this question is on the ballot, what is at stake and, let you know what you can do to help the voters understand the importance of this matter. And we should not take it lightly as the significance of the Sony Open to South Florida cannot be overstated. It is to South Florida as Wimbledon is to London and as the US Open is to New York.
To cover a great deal of ground quickly, we have prepared answers to the questions that have so far, frequently been asked.
Q: Why did we ask the County to schedule a public vote in November?
A: The Sony Open would like to make necessary permanent improvement to the Crandon Park Tennis Center and extend its usage agreement with Dade County for 20 years securing Miami as the home of the Sony Open long into the future. However, under an amendment to the Miami-Dade County Home Rule Charter, no permanent structures can be constructed in Crandon Park nor may a lease of property within the Park modified or extended without a 2/3 vote of the voters in a public referendum. The Sony Open prides itself as being a leader in global tennis and the existing facilities are at risk of no longer being competitive in the world of professional tennis for either the fans or the players.
Q: What is it that the voters are being asked to decide?
A: Voters will be asked to allow the construction of new permanent facilities within the Tennis Center (but conditioned on the absolute requirement that no additional public money would be used to build them).
Q: Where is the money for the facilities upgrades going to come from?
A: Funding for the improvements would come entirely from tournament revenues and cost savings generated by the event. NO TAXPAYER MONEY WILL BE USED.
Q: Who will pay for any cost overruns?
A: Any project overruns would be paid for by tournament revenues and cost savings generated by the event. NO TAXPAYER MONEY WILL BE USED.
Q: What would the economic consequence be to the County if the voters reject the proposal?
A: The Sony Open Tennis Tournament is, by far, one of the most important special events held in South Florida, generating economic benefits that exceed the Super Bowl, NBA playoffs, and the Orange Bowl. In the most recent economic study, the economic impact of the Tournament is in excess of $380 million, which does not include the incalculable value of a world audience seeing Miami in its most positive light. Last year, the Tournament generated over 7,000 hours of television coverage for our community throughout the world. The economic value of that image of South Florida at its best is simply incalculable.
Q: What is the nature of the physical improvements being proposed?
A: The principal proposed additions are as follows:
Three permanent mini- stadiums:
Three permanent seating structures: Grandstand stadium, Court One and Court Two, in approximately the same size of the temporary structures which would include facilities such as bathrooms, areas for concessions, shade, and storage.
A series of open architecture structures (columns and roofs without walls) that would in non-Tournament times enhance the public's use of the park by providing open shaded spaces. During Tournament times these structures would be divided by canvas "walls" and used for concessions and retail outlets.
Additions to the existing Center Court Stadium:
Additions would include:
- Adding needed additional space to the infrastructure of the stadium to address much needed expansion to our player, tour, and media operations. In addition,
- Enlarge the main stadium concourse to allow the addition of additional stadium food and beverage restaurants / outlets.
- Construct two hospitality areas that would be attached to the stadium.
Environmentally friendly and ascetically pleasing pedestrian areas:
This would be accomplished by replacing most of the asphalt walkways throughout the Crandon Park grounds with more environmentally friendly and ascetically pleasing materials.
A small structure on the lake adjacent to the Stadium to be used during the year as a park water element and during the tournament to showcase the bay to the world via player interviews and television reporting.
Horticulture plan using native materials:
Partner with an entity such as Fairchild Tropical Gardens to manage the fauna and flora of the Tennis Center. Fairchild would plant and maintain the plant materials throughout the Tennis Center to achieve several objectives: utilizing only native materials; concealing the structures from public view; providing ample shade; and establishing an example of South Florida fauna to a world market.
Q: How would these proposals help or hurt Crandon Park?
A: If this project is approved, the public park will be vastly improved, with bathrooms, shade, water/kayak access and much more. Asphalt will be replaced with stone. The scrub landscaping will, if Fairchild agrees to take it over, become for barrier island horticulture, what Fairchild is for the tropical mainland. In short, the public park will be the greatest beneficiary of this project.
Q: What is the magnitude and cost of the proposed improvements?
A: The Tournament proposes structures and improvements that will, in the aggregate cost less than $50 million, all of which will be paid for with Tournament revenues and cost savings. NO TAXPAYER MONEY WILL BE USED.
Q: Is there a legitimate concern that the Tournament might actually leave?
A: The Tournament does not want to leave Miami, but improvements must be made to Crandon Park for the Event to continue as one of the world's premier events. In addition and even more concerning that unless 2/3 voters vote in favor of extending the use of Crandon Park for this purpose, it has to leave.
Q: If the Tournament can do better somewhere else, why offer to spend millions to keep it here?
A: The owners of the Tournament love this event and love this site. Key Biscayne is a jewel. Miami and Miami Beach offer an atmosphere to an international audience that is second to none.
Q: If the ballot measure does not pass, what happens next?
A: The Tournament has nine years remaining on a contract that requires the County to provide first class facilities. The facilities are at risk of falling below this standard. A negative vote from the community would indicate that the Tournament would have to explore all other opportunities. We recognize that a 2/3 vote on anything is difficult but that is a constraint the voters choose to put on the use of this park and we respect it.
What we hope you will do:
We need ambassadors, armed with the truth, to help us educate the public about the importance of this issue. What better source for ambassadors than our patrons. In the coming weeks we will be reaching out to you with more specific information about what you can do but, in the meantime, talk to everyone you know about the importance of this vote and the importance of destroying myths before they multiply.
Tournament Director, Sony Open