The Miami Open Experience: Fan Edition
LOWDOWN ON MIAMI OPEN
Before I get into everything, let me introduce myself a bit. My name is Angie Saint-Yl and this is my fifth consecutive year going to the Miami Open. I went for the first time in 2011 for one session (Night). Then went for the second time in 2015 for a full day. And it’s been the case for the last four years that I have gone opening weekend and go for what I deem “bonus” days depending on how the OOP shakes out. This post is in reaction to all the news and such I have heard from journalists harping on a lot of negatives and being very vague about what the tournament actually offers. Now I’m not saying I won’t talk about the negatives (there are a lot of things that need to improve for next year no doubt) but I’m also here to give insights about the host of great things the tournament brought and how th
is really can be a great event for years to come
FIRST THINGS FIRST: PARKING Although it is a big improvement (compared to having to take a shuttle down to the site in Crandon) to have all parking on-site and within walking distance of the entrance gates, it is a major pain to have parking be so expensive.
The parking prices are as follows: $40 on the day $30 if you buy online $30 if you have a SunPass
The tournament was really bad about being explicit to people about the discounted price of the parking tickets and it took them forever to put a link for the parking tickets on their site. My recommendation: When they start releasing information about ticket sales and all, look for any information about the prices for parking tickets or inquire about it with an agent.
What is Sunpass you may ask? SunPass is a system used by the state of Florida for the collection of tolls you go through on many a highway here. For any Hard Rock event, it is the case that you can get $10 off your parking pass if you have a SunPass transponder. You can buy SunPass transponders at almost any store. The SunPass mini is about $5 + tax (can only be used in one car) and the big transponder (which can be transferred among multiple cars) is $20-$25 + tax. If you are going to be driving down to SoFlo from wherever you are, it would be worth your while to get a SunPass for your travels around (if you want to go down to Miami, up to the Palm Beaches, etc. when not at the tennis) and also when you leave Florida (the alternative to getting your toll collected is toll-by-plate and that will cost you a lot more than if you just loaded money on a SunPass)
It’s best if you can get to the site within the first hour or so of parking access being granted. The traffic wasn’t too crazy, it was easy for me to park, and I was able to chill and eat my breakfast before proceeding into the grounds. When I went the second Monday and Wednesday around 2ish, it was more hectic and I had to drive around for a bit before I got a spot.
In terms of the parking personnel, I really do hope they either train the personnel better or get a new group next year. The people they tasked with managing the parking lot seemed to be novices, to put it mildly. There was a lot of talking going on between the workers instead of stopping traffic and letting people turn into the parking lot when I went this second Wednesday, the workers were not the best with directing me where to go and where to park, and getting out Wednesday night was pretty nightmarish.
Moreover, there are various colors allocated for the parking area. The general admission lot is designated as the ORANGE LOT. When you go on Ticketmaster to buy a parking pass, this is the color lot that will come up for you. This is the cheapest lot at $30. Then there is the BLUE LOT which costs a bit more money (don’t know the exact price) but it’s really not that special. The ORANGE and BLUE lots are right next to each other and you are parking in the grass for both so. If you want to be in an actually paved lot with a designated spot, the BLACK lot is for you but it requires you to shell out even more money. I saw in a recent article that the tournament set the prices as they did because that’s what it normally is for Hard Rock events. Most of the events that happen at Hard Rock stadium are one-day events. The Miami Open is a two-week event and you can’t compare apples with oranges. I really do hope they bring down the prices for parking next year because it’s ridiculous when you factor in tickets, food, any merch you want to buy, and want to go to the event multiple days.
Views from my BLUE parking spot area
TICKETING If you want to get the most bang for your buck, I always recommend doing a mini Opening Weekend Package. The package I specifically opt for is the Opening Weekend Flex Four. With this package, you are allowed to pick any four sessions of the six offered up for the Opening Weekend (Friday-Sunday). Days I have gone with mostly: Friday (Day), Saturday (Day and Night), and Sunday (Day). All the big name players will most likely be scheduled to play during the weekend so your chances of seeing a top fave of yours are high. Additionally, there is so much on tap from both tours (opening weekend is the second round action for the men, third round action for the ladies) so it really is a fabulous value. It usually goes for around $200 some and if you decide you don’t want to go one of the days (usually Sunday is the most relaxed schedule day of the opening weekend), you can always resell your ticket.
And something that really came to the forefront this year and not so much in Key Biscayne: GROUNDS PASSES
My first day at the Miami Open this year was the first Friday on a grounds pass. Such bang for my buck. Because of the rains that had hit earlier in the week, the scheduled matches on the outside courts were LIT and there were so many people you could watch practice as well. The grounds passes vary in price (I believe they reached their peak of about 60ish dollars or so that first Friday and Saturday) but it really is worth it. I went on Stadium mostly to see Roger but really enjoyed being at one of the various outside courts. Especially when you are on Cts. 1-8, it gets to be so intimate and can really allow for some spectacular atmospheres. My recommendations: If you want to do a la carte tickets (for mid-part of the first week or Monday-Wednesday of the second week), do a grounds pass. If you have a big-time favorite (i.e. Rog, Rafa, Serena, Juan Martin, etc.) and you see their name released for whatever day on Stadium, buy those stadium tickets early because the prices for tickets in Miami can fluctuate depending on the player.
From Roger’s practice that First Friday. Had never seen him practice at Miami until this year. The increase in the number of practice courts at the new venue has been a big plus for players and fans alike
PRICE FLUCTUATIONS Prices can go up quite substantially depending on the player When it was announced that Roger was going to play day session on March 23rd, the lowest resale price for a day session ticket was around $120 + fees. And the standard ticket selling price (from the tournament) was $180 + fees. And mind you, these were seats in the 300s section.
f you can get a resale ticket, that’s a better deal than getting a standard ticket because the fees are going to be less. Instead of the $18 or so fee that will be tacked on with the standard ticket, the fee for resales are $5 or so It is also possible to avoid fees altogether and buy at the box office on site but I did see long queues for it so go for it if you have a good amount of patience (or get to the campus early)
ACCOMMODATIONS AND TRANSPORT There is an area designated for Rideshare (Uber, Lyft, etc.) on the grounds. However, I would highly recommend renting a car and driving for however long you are here for. It’s a pain in the ass having to wait for a car to come to pick you up if you are planning on going to tournament multiple days and your tab will really start getting expensive if you want to venture down to Miami Beach, the Palm Beaches, etc. It is also the case (from what I read) that the tournament does not readily provide shuttle buses anymore from their partner hotels to the site being that everybody is able to park on site now. So when you are getting things ready with your accommodations and all, definitely budget for a car.
Speaking of accommodations, I would also Highly Recommend staying in the Miramar/Pembroke Pines areas if you can. It is really to get to the tournament from either of these areas (no need to get on the highway and deal with a bunch of crazies) and you can find a lot of reasonably priced Airbnbs and hotel rooms. If you want to venture out some, places like Hollywood or Fort Lauderdale aren’t too shabby either. If you’re really wanting to stay in Miami, you’ll want to book your place early because the reasonable stuff sells very quickly and prices for Airbnbs/hotels get very expensive. Also, the traffic coming up and back down from the tournament can get very crazy as well so be prepared.
ENTERING THE GROUNDS It is the case that there is a clear bag policy in effect for entrance in the grounds. Below is the bag I got (I wanted something that would be functional on the whole not just for this tournament) but you can find a whole host of clear bags online. If you’re not going to generally bring a lot of stuff with you on the grounds, you can also get some clear baggies from the security detail/staff on site (not sure if they charge you [if any at all]) so I just brought my own bag. And the security check wasn’t too invasive. I did put a few small snacks in my phone camera lens bag and you are allowed to one bottle (up to a liter) of water in so that’s something at least ;P
Once you go through the security line, you then self-scan yourself at one of the ticket reader setups. You are able to scan either mobile or physical tickets. After scanning, you walk around the corner and then you will officially be in the tennis campus.
VARIOUS VIEWS OF THE GROUNDS
There were really a whole host of Instagram worthy spots around the grounds. This picture of me was taken near one of the biggest food and drink setups on site called Kiki On the River. As you will see in the subsequent pictures, the tournament really made a concerted effort to create a wonderfully chill and tropical environment that was a lot better than Key Biscayne IMHO