MIAMI GARDENS—The grand plans to bring the Miami Open tennis tournament to Hard Rock Stadium look spectacular. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ vision to create a world-class sports venue is coming together, and if the actual facility looks close to the renderings on display at this morning’s ground breaking ceremony, it’ll be impressive.
But tennis is still the secondary purpose of this venue, and as the tournament proceeds toward a 2019 relocation from Key Biscayne, there are concerns about how the renovations will impact Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes home football games.
Parking is a chief issue. In addition to the main court inside the stadium, which will be built over the visiting sideline, there will be a permanent 6,000-seat grandstand court and 28 others built in the south parking lots. There’s also a large, triangular plaza being built that runs up to the south side of the stadium.
“First of all, in the future you’re not going to worry about it,” Ross said, half-jokingly. “You’re gonna have self-driving cars.
“But we’ve lowered the amount of seats we have in the stadium from 75,000 to 65,000, so we had excess parking to start with. I don’t think it will impact the parking at all.”
When the project is finished, that might be the case. In the meantime, though, the parking situation won’t be quite perfect for the Dolphins and UM this season.
The Dolphins have long had plans in the works to build pedestrian bridges and tunnels connecting the outer parking lots to the main part of the property, but those won’t be finished until March 2019. There are also plans to repave the outer lots prior to the upcoming season.
Some parts of the tennis facility, including practice courts, will be used for parking at football games and other sections can be converted to parking areas temporarily.
“We do lose some parking spaces right up next to the stadium,” Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel said. “We’re working on a plan to accommodate the fans who are displaced.
“We had ample parking for 75,000 and now we’re down to 65,000 seats. We lose some parking, but we still have plenty of parking and we’re planning on making the parking lots nicer and more accessible to everybody.”
For the Miami Open, it’s a massive increase from 5,447 fan parking spaces to 17,459.
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