KEY BISCAYNE (CBSMiami) – Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has been in the news a lot in the past 24 hours.
Currently at the NFL owners meetings, Ross is making headlines for not only his dealings in Arizona but also his suggestion surrounding an entire different sport; tennis.
He would like to see the tournament moved from Key Biscayne to Hard Rock Stadium.
If there’s anyone ambitious enough to relocate the tournament it would be Ross.
Just recently he brought El Clasico, the biggest soccer match in the world, to Miami.
Now he could potential be the savior of tennis is South Florida.
Key Biscayne has been the backdrop to the Miami Open since 1985, but unless the event can score some private funding for renovations, those courts may one day go quiet.
Butch Buchholz, founder and former director of the tournament, believes the open needs to stay in Miami.
“It’s been a tremendous asset,” Bucholtz said of the open. “The economic impact for the community is over $300 million and just to take that away, it’s just not in the best interest of the county and in the best interest of the citizens of Dade County.”
The Matheson family, which owns the land at Crandon Park, continues to deny private proposals for expansion.
But according to a report from the Miami herald, Ross met with Miami Open executives late last week with the idea of moving the tournament to Hard Rock Stadium.
CBS4’s Mike Cugno reached out to Miami Open officials who said they would not comment on the story but Ross says in a statement “I would continue to explore it if it means keeping the tournament in Miami.”
The plan would reportedly include a tennis complex and hospitality area, which could be used for other stadium events. Buchholz thinks it could be a good alternative to the tournament leaving all together.
“I’m reading in the paper that there’s another alternative, which would be fine,” said Buchholz. “Steve Ross does things in a first class way and it will be a first class facility.”
More than 300,000 fans attend the Miami open each year and players often refer to it as the 5th Grand Slam. Taking it away isn’t something they’d be cheering for any time soon.
“It’s important for us and for our tour to have the most important events in relevant cities,” said tennis star Rafael Nadal.
Nadal isn’t the only player voicing his opinion about a potential move.
“Obviously I understand it’s hard to expand here in Crandon Park, so that’s a bit of an issue,” said tennis star Roger Federer. “If you look at how much the expansions are happening right now in Indian Wells and in other places of Grand Slams. But nevertheless, crowds are good here, it’s a nice place with history now and players still do remain very positive about this event.”