MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Since 1987, the Miami Open tennis tournament has been a long-standing tradition on Key Biscayne.
That tradition will break beginning in 2019, with the tournament set to move to Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.
On Friday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez joined The Joe Rose Show on WQAM to explain the process.
“My first priority was to keep the tennis tournament here in Miami-Dade County,” said Gimenez. “My preference would have been to stay in Key Biscayne, without a doubt.”
So, what went wrong in Key Biscayne?
“Even though the people of Miami-Dade voted overwhelmingly to have the IMG Group invest millions of dollars to upgrade the facilities in order to keep the players and enhance the fan experience, we have what’s called a ‘master plan agreement’ that was entered 20 years ago with an individual,” noted Gimenez.
That individual is Bruce Matheson, who filed a lawsuit to keep the Key Biscayne facility from expanding. The Matheson family agreed to deed the land to the county in 1992, but now the heirs are blocking expansion because they claim it violates the agreement.
“Mr. Matheson sits on a committee which has four members. Miami-Dade County [selected] two, and a conservation group from Washington named the other two,” said Gimenez. “When Miami-Dade signed the agreement, everyone thought we’d have reasonable people there. But, somehow, Mr. Matheson has been able to control those other two votes.”
Gimenez offered a startling detail as to how Matheson handles his role on this committee.
“He is, in my opinion, one of the most unreasonable people I’ve ever met in my life,” Gimenez said. “He stopped it. He stopped all of it. From what I understand, when they had a presentation about what they were going to do there, he basically turned his chair around and looked the other way. That’s the kind of individual we are working with.”
You can listen to the full interview with Carlos Gimenez on The Joe Rose Show above.