MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The Miami Open tennis tournament, held every year in Key Biscayne, may have a new home, breaking one of the oldest traditions of professional sports in the city.
In 2019, the tennis tournaments is expected to be held at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens under a new deal that includes a $1 million annual county subsidy, according to our news partners at the Miami Herald.
The subsidy would come from an already existing agreement that pays the Miami Dolphins up to $5 million a year for major sporting events.
But not everything is finalized.
Miami-Dade County commissioners still have to approve the agreement.
Despite that, the parent company of the long-running tennis event already signed paperwork with the administration of Mayor Carlos Gimenez to make 2018 the last year the Miami Open would be held in Key Biscayne.
“Unless there are improvements made to Key Biscayne which we cannot do because an individual named Bruce Matheson won’t allow us to do it…we got to do what we can to keep that tournament here,” said Mayor Gimenez.
The company that promotes the tournament needs to expand the Key Biscayne facility but they can’t because Bruce Matheson filed a lawsuit.
“Hopefully everybody is happy because the tournament moves to the Hard Rock and expands. The politicians keep it in Dade County and the public gets Crandon Park back and use it for what it was,” said Matheson.
The Matheson family agreed to deed the land to the county for a single stadium back in 1992. The heirs balked at the expansion saying it violated the agreement and went to court to shut down the county plans.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has been working to add tennis to the football and soccer matches already held at the stadium.
“I am glad Stephen Ross stepped up to sign a deal and keep the Miami Open here,” said Gimenez.
He has proposed building a $53 million facility to host tournament events in the parking lots outside the stadium while the actual tennis matches would be held inside the stadium.
“It is a major event. It brings 100’s of thousands of people here, fills up hotel rooms….great time of year to show off this beautiful town,” said Gimenez.
This deal would end one of the oldest traditions for professional sports in Miami.
The tournament, once known as the Lipton International Players Championship, has been held in Key Biscayne since 1987.
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