City, County Consider Western & Southern Open Relocation Proposal
Published on May 10, 2023
(UPDATE) – On Monday, June 12, Charlotte City Council voted unanimously to authorize the city manager to negotiate an agreement between the city and Beemok Sports to cover construction costs up to $65 million to develop a tennis campus in the River District. The campus would host the Western & Southern Open and other year-round tennis and entertainment events should Beemok Sports decide to relocate the Western & Southern Open tournament to Charlotte. A decision is expected this summer.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 10, 2023) – The Western & Southern Open tournament organizers are considering relocating the tennis tournament from Cincinnati, Ohio and Charlotte is one the cities currently being considered.
The Western & Southern Open is held annually in August, immediately prior to the U.S. Open which helps attract some of the best men’s and women’s tennis players in the world to the event. In 2022, nine of the top 10 men’s tennis players competed and all 10 of the top ranked women’s tennis players competed at the tournament. The Western & Southern Open is a Masters 1000-level event (the level right below tennis Grand Slam events) and other cities with Masters 1000-level events include Miami, Los Angeles, Rome, Madrid, Montreal, Toronto, Monte-Carlo, Paris and Shanghai.
In 2025, the Western & Southern Open will double in size and duration increasing from an eight-day, 56-player event to a 14-day, 96-player event which would increase the number of attendees and increase the economic impact which is estimated to be $275 million according to tournament organizers.
Relocation of the tournament would include building a large racquet facility in Charlotte to be the home of the tournament, as well as a site to host other racquet events including college and amateur tennis tournaments, pickleball events, and other events such as concerts and festivals.
The tournament organizers presented its vision to Charlotte City Council’s Jobs & Economic Development Committee and the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners Economic Development Committee on May 10.
Please see below for more information. Additional materials will be posted as they are available.
What would be built?
The proposal includes an approximately $400 million campus that could include four major stadium courts including a 15,000-seat center court, more than 30 hard courts, a 50-plus acre campus, parking for 10,000 vehicles and a 45,000 square-foot academy building plus pickleball courts, retail and restaurant space.
How big is the Western & Southern Open?
The Western & Southern Open is one the biggest tennis tournaments in the world outside of the four grand slam events. Other cities with events of similar size/prestige include Miami, Los Angeles, Rome and Madrid.
In 2025, the Western & Southern Open will double in size and duration increasing from an eight-day, 56-playaer event to a 14-day, 96-player event.
What is the projected economic impact of hosting this tennis tournament?
The estimated annual economic impact data of hosting a two-week Masters 1000-level tournament in Charlotte is $275 million according to tournament organizers. The 2022 Presidents Cup generate an estimated $175 million to the Charlotte area and the Wells Fargo Championship generates an estimated $77 million economic impact.
Where would this be located?
The tournament organizers have evaluated multiple sites and has identified the River District as the best potential site.
A racquet facility is also being considered for development at Eastland. Why not just build this one there?
The Eastland site isn’t big enough. This tennis facility needs at least 50 acres to be built and the Eastland site has only 29 acres available.
How would the community benefit from this facility?
The tournament organizers have committed to creating a public facility open to all residents of Mecklenburg County and using academy programming to reach under-resourced communities. Programming could include year-round activation and recreation. Organizers have also said they would appoint a dedicated Director of Community Programming to establish partnerships with local schools for after-school programs and summer camps and oversee a scholarship program granting access to a tennis academy.
What public funding is being considered to support this?
Tournament organizers are seeking one-third of the total project costs from public contributions to develop the facility and relocate the tournament. The remaining cost of the project would be paid by the tournament organizers. The public funds could come from the city, county and the state.
Are there other examples of this type of development?
Beemok, which is the tournament organizer, has created similar development in Charleston, S.C. at Daniel Island. In April 2022, Beemok opened a $60 million renovation for the Credit One Stadium where the Charleston Open is played. That year the Charleston Open was named the World Tennis Association Tournament of the Year. That venue also hosted 22 concerts that year and was named as a top ten amphitheater in the world by Pollstar.
What happens next?
Charlotte City Council and the Mecklenburg County Commission will discuss the proposal at its respective meetings.