Miami Open 2021 - the Ghosted tennis event

Miami Open 2021

In order to find out the truth, I had to go there myself.
What I discovered was both shocking and disappointing.

In order for real tennis to resume, fans must be at the center.
Not the tournament, not the prize money, not the sponsors. The Fans. They are #1.

“If you see fraud and do not say fraud, you are a fraud.”
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb
March 22, 2021
After many withdrawals following the Top 3, the Miami Open tournament decided to continue to run. However, on its main page, we found very little information about venue updates.

Contacting the IMG staff members and emailing for feedback multiple times resulted in almost no useable information. This is after having booked travel plans and tickets to the event.

Unplanned Surprises with Miami Open Tickets
A week prior, I had personally purchased a group of (5) pre-sale tickets for the Grandstand (the largest match court). The center court stadium was closed off due to covid-19 restrictions. However, I took a chance and wanted to give my fans a preview of the condition of Tennis Tournaments.
Even the practice courts were partitioned off at least 20 feet away around the court barriers.

After all the player dropouts, almost nobody wanted to go. Luckily, I was able to transfer a pair of tickets to a couple of tennis fans. Then hours before matches began, I was able to sell my remaining two tickets I could not use online. At least it was not a complete waste.

Days prior, the Miami Beach scene was chaotic and forced a curfew in the city. Spring breakers flooded the airports and beaches. The news of after-dark chaos was everywhere.

Miami Hard Rock Stadium - Ghost Town
Below are some of the photos taken that show the eerily empty and largely fan-less campus during the middle of the day.

With none of the usual fan electricity - friends cheering, kids laughing, patrons shopping and eating - the whole event felt like an expensive, giant birthday party where all the guests RSVP'd no.

Opening Day #1
It is typically the time when many players are practicing. At the US Open, this is the perfect time to arrive and watch with few crowds. At the Miami Open, the very odd situation was that even the Order of Play match sheet was not available on their website as late as the eve of the tournament.

Players apparently were dropping out with late withdrawals, and then being substituted:

Practically nobody was able to watch multiple court matches. Even one credentialed media photographer told me they were restricted to stay only on half of the practice courts divided up the middle. They could not cross to the other half.

Ushers and parking attendants stood and sat idly for hours waiting for the end of their shift. I would estimate that staff outnumbered fans at least 10 to 1. One perennial volunteer told me, "if you thought this was bad, at least it was not as sprawled out like 2 years ago when you had to walk to the other side of the stadium".

He's right, I clocked in over 10K steps just walking from North parking to South entrances. Car parking is an additional $30/day to add insult to the injury.

Even the local vendor stands said they wish they could go back to the Key Biscayne days when their booth was 4x the size. A sad turn of events for Miami-Dade and this former vibrant NASDAQ tournament. Let's hope next year it will return.

For the rest of the tennis season, we will monitor it closely as it hopefully recovers in time for our Major - the 2021 US Open. Please subscribe for more in-depth previews and details. Stay tuned before you go!

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