Next spring, if winter hangs on with a vengeance, the best place to get away from it all may be a short flight to southern California and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
The BNP Paribas Open — the first of nine ATP World Tour Masters 1,000 events — at Indian Wells offers tennis fans an opportunity to get the action only seen on some of the grand slams, but in a smaller, friendly venue where fans can see their favorites up close.
The Indian Wells Tennis Garden recently announced expansion plans targeted for the 2014 tournament. Plans include an 8,000-seat Stadium 2 with two restaurants, four additional practice courts and an additional grass parking space for up to 2,000 cars.
“These expansion plans build upon changes the tournament made the past few years including becoming the only tournament in the world to have the Hawkeye Challenge System on all match courts, increasing total prize money to more than $11 million, installing a 19,000-square-foot shade structure to the Tennis Garden Village, adding additional seating to outer courts and practice courts and placing numerous video walls and information towers throughout the site,” Indian Wells Tennis Garden reported this month. “All of the enhancements are designed to create an incomparable venue to enjoy world-class tennis while also delivering a relaxing atmosphere between matches.”
For a fly-over video of the expansion go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiCMRK47RAQ.
In 2012, the BNP Paribas Open, the largest combined event for the men’s and women’s professional tennis tours, set a new attendance record for the sixth straight year. There were 370,408 fans in the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for the two-week tournament.
For fans, it offers a place to see top talent in action without having to deal with traffic and conditions of a metropolitan city.
For folks who need a little break from the tennis, or for the friends who come along but can’t sit through back-to-back matches, there are other attractions.
A short drive from the tennis garden, Joshua Tree National Park offers 585,000 acres of desert to explore. In 1976, about 80 percent of the area was designated as wilderness to preserve the large roadless expanse. For more information, go online to http://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm.
For a quick break from the tennis action, the La Quinta Arts Festival is also nearby. The festival was ranked the No. 1 fine art festival in the nation by Art Fair SourceBook, considered a definitive guide for art and craft fairs in the U.S. For more information go to www.lqaf.com.
But die-hard tennis fans may not want to leave the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
For winter white weary residents ready to end a drought of color, the tournament grounds offer vibrant flower gardens, live music, shopping, food and beverages, reclining chairs in the shade and summer-like temperatures with humidity levels in the 20s on a robust day.
In addition to match play, fans may be a few feet or yards away from the top players as they go for a hit on the practice courts or play soccer on the player’s grassy field nearby. It’s a chance to see Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal up close. And that’s worth the trip.