Next year’s edition will bring a new twist to the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium, the first time the NFL facility has played host to pro tennis.
For the Miami Dolphins, whose owner Stephen Ross spearheaded the move from Key Biscayne to Miami Gardens and is funding the $60 million retrofit, it’s an opportunity for the team to showcase the newest generation of portable suite products inside the facility.
Seating Solutions, a New Jersey firm that supplies portable seating for large events such as the Super Bowl and Final Four, is developing a premium superstructure for the Miami Open in conjunction with Rossetti, the Detroit architect designing the stadium retrofit for tennis.
The vendor has constructed portable suites for other events, but this upgraded structure for the Miami Open takes the concept to a much higher level with concourse space and catering service across three levels, according to Scott Suprina, president of Seating Solutions.
“Most rentals are a scaffold-style frame, so you don’t have room to operate underneath the structure,” Suprina said. “With this new design, there are clear spaces underneath. It’s a new modular I-beam system we’ve created. It’s a pretty innovative design.”
As of late May, Seating Solutions was building a prototype at its warehouse in Landrum, S.C., to give the Dolphins a better idea of what it looks like and give them the confidence it can work for the Miami Open, Suprina said. At that time, project officials were still tweaking the renderings and no images were made available of the structure.
Rossetti President Matt Rossetti did his best to paint a mental picture of the upgraded portable suite. The suite interiors feature a tropical scene themed for South Beach pool cabanas, complete with canvas drapery and wood flooring, beams and cabinetry, he said.
“They’re totally tricked out like any high-end suite you’ve been in before,” Rossetti said. “It’s going to feel rich and elegant and very high end. The fact that these things are prefab and pop in and out is to me what makes it so interesting.”
Ross has been personally involved in the project and wants to make sure every little detail is world class for the event, including the portable suite design, said Todd Boyan, the Dolphins’ senior vice president of stadium operations.
“Part of the strategy is to make the seating structure as quick and efficiently installed as possible, as well as minimize the time it takes to tear it down and still have them be high-end materials with high-quality finishes,” Boyan said.
The product has the potential to usher in a new wave of rental business for NFL stadiums, Suprina said.
“It’s designed specifically for this event, but if it works the way we intend it to work, the market for that type of structure, whether the owner wants to play tennis or basketball or anything else, is huge,” he said.
The Dolphins plan to install 13 portable suites as part of cutting the stadium down to 14,000 seats for the main court. Each suite accommodates 24 patrons. The team is selling them for $100,000 to $300,000 for the two-week event. IMG owns the Miami Open.
A portion of those sales are renewals from buyers of the 27 suites at Crandon Park, which played host to the tournament for 24 years.
Separately, 29 permanent suites will be sold for the event across three levels on the southwest side. It’s the only piece of the existing bowl open to the event. Rossetti designed a C-shaped temporary stadium at a 45-degree angle that wraps around the bowl and sits on the field.
As a result of the angle of the stadium court, most of the portable suites will be installed along the northeast side. Others will be on the northwest side, at the end of the court, said Mike Shea, Rossetti’s project manager.
To create an intimate setting in the stadium, Rossetti designed a backdrop with images of confetti exploding into the air compared with a typical black curtain to block seats. The idea was to form a visual effect to catch the eye without looking out toward the entire stadium.
“We’re not trying to fool anybody,” Rossetti said. “It’s an honest, celebratory way of creating intimacy.”
Hard Rock Stadium is just one piece of the Miami Open. In parking lots closest to the facility, 29 permanent courts will be constructed, connected to large plazas and fountains with olive grove dining spaces. Practice courts are also part of the mix.