The first two years of the Lindner Family Tennis Center’s $22 million expansion largely benefited Western & Southern Open players and media as the tournament transitioned to a concurrent men’s and women’s event.
This third year is all about the fans.
When tennis lovers attend the world-class tournament in Mason Aug. 11-19, they’ll be able to eat and relax in a new food court and entertainment plaza that has tripled in size.
“Obviously we felt a strong need to expand the food court because in the past, our food court has been crowded,” said Elaine Bruening, chief executive officer of Cincinnati Tennis LLC. “With the growing attendance and increased number of fans on site, we realized we needed more opportunities for dining and places to sit down.”
The $3 million final phase of the site’s renovation features a music stage, video boards, seating under tents, an increased roster of 14 vendors peddling a variety of cuisines, and shaded ordering for those first in line.
Not only has the tourney doubled food court seating to 1,200, but it has scheduled daily live music and added trees and synthetic grass to provide a more park-like feel.
The food court expansion was already in the works before last year’s tournament debuted a single-week format that had stars such as Roger Federer playing on one court and Maria Sharapova on another. Nearly 175,000 fans came to watch.
This year the tennis center’s 16 practice and playing courts again will be jammed with top players on both tours, from Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to Serena and Venus Williams.
Because the W&S Open features the top 20 ranked men and 19 of the top 20 women, the Olympic medalists are expected to be in the mix just a week after standing on the podium in London.
Ticket sales are already ahead of last year’s pace. In the meantime, W&S Open chief operating officer and tournament director Vince Cicero is overseeing the finishing touches on a festival-like dining area designed to accommodate thousands of fans.
Last year spectators enjoyed roaming from court to court, a trend Cicero expects to continue.
“People are spending a lot more time on the grounds. I think a lot of that’s a reflection of all the good matches that are going on,” Cicero said. “You have more that are here for the full day and then for the evening. In the time in between, we’re trying to make it as comfortable a setting as possible.”
Other site additions include a building housing new restrooms and the first aid station, located south of Courts Three and Four, and an East Gate by Court Four for easy entrances and exits.
So now that the $22 million renovation package – financed by Cincinnati Tennis LLC with a $5 million contribution from Tennis for Charity Inc. – is finished, tourney officials can finally sit back and relax. Right?
“It’s never over,” Bruening said. “We’re always looking for improvements needed and ways to enhance the site.”