One of the largest tennis stadiums in the world was built in a pretty unusual location. After all, the game of tennis isn’t supposed to be played in an arid and sandy desert-like area, right?
The result turned out remarkably great and in this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California.
1. It’s located in an arid valley in California
The Indian Wells Tennis Garden is the largest tennis stadium of the Indian Wells tennis complex located in the city with the same name. Indian Wells is located in Riverside County in the southern part of the state on the West Coast of the U.S.
The famous desert resort town of Palm Springs is located just west of the tennis complex and Los Angeles isn’t too far away west as well at about 124 miles (200 kilometers), which constitutes a 2-hour drive from LA’s city center.
What’s remarkable is that the tennis stadium is located in the Coachella Valley. This is a rift valley that is part of the much larger Colorado Desert, an extremely arid region in the southern part of California.
Yes, this means that playing tennis here means that you’re playing in the desert, not exactly a landscape that is known to be very well suited for tennis games.
2. It’s the second-largest tennis stadium in the world
Court Number 1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is not only the largest of the facility but also the second-largest tennis stadium in the world. It has a capacity of 16,100 seats, which pretty much means that the tennis balls appear rather small on the top tiers of the stadium.
The entire complex features 29 courts and Court Number 2 is a fairly large stadium as well featuring 8,000 seats.
This is nothing compared to the epitome of tennis stadiums, the Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows in New York City, which has a total capacity of 23,771 seats.
3. It’s the venue of the 5th-largest tennis tournament in the world
The Indian Wells Masters was founded in 1974 and is currently known as the BNP Paribas Open for sponsorship reasons. It’s often simply referred to as the “Indian Wells Open” or “Indian Wells” as well.
Even though the complex features the second-largest tennis stadium in the world, this tournament isn’t one of the 4 Grand Slam Tournaments. These are played in Paris, New York City, London, and Australia.
The status of the tournament has grown quite a bit over the past few decades. It started as a non-tour event between 1974 and 1976 and was only upgraded to a Grand Prix Super Series tournament in 1987.
Today, it’s considered to be the 5th-most important tennis tournament in the world after the 4 Grand Slams.
4. The stadium was completed in the early 21st century
The unusual location of the tennis complex hasn’t stopped the growth of the tournament, which resulted in a serious upgrade of the tournament facilities in the early 21st century.
The project was completed in the year 2000 and the first tennis games at the newly constructed stadium were played in March 2000.
The men who had the biggest stake in the outcome of the project were Charlie Pasarell, a former tennis player from Puerto Rico and the owner of the Indian Wells Open at the time, and Raymond Moore, another former tennis player from South Africa.
Both men managed to privately raise the $77 million needed to build the stadium, quite an amazing achievement.
5. The entire facility changed hands twice in 2006 and 2009
The two former tennis players Pasarell and Moore gathered a group of investors in 2006 to buy the entire complex back from the original investors. Some of these investors included other former tennis players such as Pete Sampras, Chris Evert, and Billie Jean King.
Just 3 years later they managed to exit as the multi-billionaire and tennis enthusiast Larry Ellison set his mind to acquire the complex. He made them an offer they couldn’t refuse and Ellison became the owner of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in December 2009.
Having a man with a net worth exceeding $100 billion owning the place isn’t the worst idea and a lot of good things have happened since then. He invested quite a bit of money to expand the facility in 2014 which included:
- The permanent Court 2 with 8,000 seats.
- 3 restaurants overlooking Court Number 2.
- The Tennis Garden Village with an area of 18,000 square feet (1,672 square meters).
The expansion also included the upgrade of all 29 existing courts to world-class tennis courts, the installation of lights on 23 tennis courts, and a serious upgrade to locker rooms and press facilities.
More interesting facts about the Indian Wells Tennis Garden
6. The Indian Wells Masters is a one-time yearly event that takes place in March. This isn’t the only time that the complex is used, though, because everybody can use the facility to play a game of tennis.
Professional staff is conducting tennis lessons to newbies and recreational players who are members of the Indian Wells tennis Garden can play games at the facility throughout the year.
7. Court Number 1 of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is sometimes transformed into a concert venue as well. Some of the famous artists that have performed here include The Eagles, The Who, Tom Petty, Andrea Bocelli, and Mexican pop group RBD.
On October 11, 2008, the first outdoor NBA game since 1972 was played at the stadium as well. The Phoenix Suns took on the Denver Nuggets that day. This was followed by 3 more NBA games at the stadium, all involving the Phoenix Suns in both 2009 and 2010.
8. The upgrade of the tennis complex included the integration of the “Pro Purple” tennis courts at the facility. Indian Wells was the first to include this purple color scheme for the interior of the courts.
The reason why this color is used is that this shade of purple is the complete opposite color as the yellow tennis balls, making them much better visible from far distances and on television.
9. Because the Indian Wells Open has grown so much in popularity and because it’s one of the most-attended tournaments in the world, it’s often referred to as the “5th Grand Slam.”
10. The cost to build the facility was $77 million in the year 2000. The upgrade in 2014 cost new owner Larry Ellison $11 million (something he most probably considers to be pocket change).