USTA considering Indian Wells as U.S. Open alternative
5/3/2020 2:35:21 PM EST
The Southern California desert could host tennis' U.S. Open later this year if the event is unable to take place in New York this summer.
New USTA executive director Michael Dowse told Inside Tennis magazine that he will know more in June, but if the September event is unable to take place at the USTA Billie Jean National Tennis Center in Queens because of the coronavirus pandemic, he has an alternate option at the ready.
The contingency plan at the Indians Wells Tennis Center in California's Coachella Valley could take place as late as November. The 16,000-seat stadium at Indian Wells is the second largest tennis-specific stadium in the United States.
The BNP Paribas Open, scheduled for March at Indian Wells, was the first international tennis event that was canceled in advance of the coronavirus pandemic.
Widely considered the most prestigious title outside of a major, the BNP Paribas Open still could be played later this year as well. It is unclear if the venue would be allowed to host both its regular tournament and the U.S. Open in 2020.
Still to be determined is whether fans would be in attendance at the Grand Slam event, if it is even contested.
"Nothing is off the table," Dowse told the magazine.
California Gov. Gavin Newsome said Tuesday that hosting a sporting event without fans is part of Stage 3 of California's recovery from the effects of the coronavirus, which has yet to advance to the second stage. Allowing fans back into arenas and stadiums is part of Stage 4, and he said there is no timetable to move from one stage to the next.
Last month, the New York site of the U.S. Open was transformed into a facility being used in the fight against coronavirus, with hospital beds and a commissary to feed thousands of meals a day to first responders.
"All of us want the U.S. Open to happen and we are ready to help with increased testing and to help players get in and out of the country," Dowse said. "We have three priorities: 1) the health and well-being of the players, staff, fans and all those involved; 2) what's good for tennis; and 3) the financial impact. Everything is still on the table and we'll be going forward based on the three-phase approach noted in the federal guidelines."
As of Saturday, 312,977 New York residents had been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Nearly 19,000 New Yorkers have died from the virus.
--Field Level Media