The South Florida winter season is a busy one for both residents and visitors. People come from all four corners of the globe to join together in celebration of the tropical weather, beautiful beaches, dazzling nightlife, and a full schedule of events, including world class sports and cultural programs.
But one winter event, a sports competition, which runs for almost two weeks in late March and early April, has captured the collective hearts of world class player, both fanatic and casual fan alike, and A list celebrity.
The Sony Ericsson Tennis event, a pro event for the world’s top women and men, has during the past few years, acquired the status of becoming the tennis world’s “fifth” Grand Slam event, on the same level of stature as its older and more famous fellow Grand Slam events which are played in New York City, London, Paris, and Melbourne, historically known as the “Big Four.”
How did the Sony Ericsson Tennis event earn this prestigious distinction and become one of the most popular tickets on South Florida’s busy winter schedule?
While most of the rest of the United States is trying to get through the last month of a long, cold winter, the Sony Ericsson event is played in typically balmy South Florida weather.
The event enjoys the generous hospitality of its host, The Tennis Center at Crandon Park, a public tennis facility operated by Miami Dade County, located in a lush tropical landscape on the equally lush and tropical Key Biscayne, home to many of South Florida’s more wealthy and famous residents. Key Biscayne, surrounded by the gin clear water of Biscayne Bay, is minutes from downtown Miami and South Beach, which suits the jet set lifestyle of world class tennis players just fine, who regularly set up office in such exotic locales as Singapore, Monaco, Rome, and Paris.
As a tennis player myself, I have made an annual pilgrimage to the “Sony”, since moving to South Florida five years ago, to watch exciting competition “up close and personal”, bump elbows with the tennis world’s movers and shakers, and enjoy the beautiful tropical surroundings.
So this year’s visit to the “Sony” was not much different from past visits. Except for one minor change in my plans. Instead of visiting the event on a Saturday, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a weekday session, specifically a Monday.
There was one element missing from my visit to the event this year, the oppressive crowds, since many people are only able to attend the event on the weekend.
How did this change in my annual plans exact itself?
Well, from the start to the end of my day long visit to the tennis event.
Starting in the morning, instead of queuing desperately in line to drive through the tollbooth to access the causeway which connects Key Biscayne and its neighboring keys to downtown Miami, I sailed right through and actually enjoyed the beautiful, albeit, short drive across several causeways and keys with the turquoise water of Biscayne Bay on either side of me enroute to one of several satellite parking lots.
A luxury air conditioned coach, driven by a friendly and amusing person, whisked us in no less than five minutes near to the front gate of the event grounds. ( During the short bus ride, the driver welcomed us aboard, and told us he would be making a stop for the shoppers aboard at the famous Aventura shopping mall, 20 miles NORTH of downtown Miami. )
After thanking the bus driver and walking to the grounds main gate, I encountered several individuals who had extra tickets which they generously were willing to make available to me. Since Rafael Nadal, at the time, the top ranked player in the world, was scheduled to play the day’s first match in the stadium court, I decided to alter my habit of buying a grounds pass, and spring for a stadium seat, which allowed you access to the grounds, whereas the grounds pass only allowed you access to all the activities outside of the stadium. In the end, I met a person from Brazil who provided me with a pass for nearly the cost of a grounds pass, in exactly the location of the stadium that I desired, the southwest corner, with my back to the midday sun.
Since the Nadal match started shortly after my arrival on the grounds, I made haste to my seat, on the 300 level, the perfect level, not too high, and not too low. In fact, from this level, I was able to look outside the stadium, at both sailboats bobbing back and forth on picturesque Biscayne Bay and the striking downtown Miami skyline in the distance. And because the 13, 000 seat stadium was not completely filled, ushers were more relaxed in allowing “guests” to walk to different sections.
When attending the event on Saturdays, it is nearly impossible to buy food and drink, the lines stretch on for “miles. Not this time, walk up to any counter and be greeted by a cheerful, helpful food vendor, at any concession.
At a big event such as this, there are feature matches scheduled for the stadium venue, several other grounds courts that provide grandstand seating, and then additional, “less important matches” on other courts spread out on the spacious grounds. Knowledgeable fans know that often, the big exciting upsets can place in the “less important matches” and there is the possibility of either sitting or standing much closer to the action. On the Monday that I attended, I not only was able to see Nadal play singles in the stadium, but later in the afternoon, I enjoyed watching him play doubles in as more intimate court venue. It was easier to get a seat for these matches, because everyone was on the whole far less stressed out because of the lack of crowds.
But for those who don’t want to watch upwards of seven hours of competition, there are several retail shopping courts which include, of course, stores with all sorts of tennis items, but also, upper end jewelry boutiques, and booths offering vacation getaways to exotic lands, tennis associations, fitness magazines, and for those patrons with the right passes, exclusive restaurant options.
Patrons are not confined to the courts to watch the competition. Just outside the stadium, near the shopping and food court area is a Jumbotron on which key matches are shown with constant scoring updates from other matches. Elsewhere on the grounds under the shade of trees is another giant screen where patrons can sit, watch the competition, and enjoy drinks and food.
When you’ve had your share of tennis, patronized the many food and beverage options, and done your share of shopping, you can stroll the grounds people-watching. You may just bump into a world famous tennis player, or your favorite Hollywood or sports celebrity.
As the sun sets over Biscayne Bay, the action continues during the evening session, as tennis fans under swaying palm trees listen to the hypnotic sounds of Brazilian Bossa Nova being performed on a stage near the Stadium court.
So please join us South Floridians and other tennis fans from around the world at next winter’s Sony Ericsson. But for maximum enjoyment, avoid the crowds, and attend the event on a week day.

Posted by: keithsoifer | March 29, 2009

Sports – NFL Player vs. Dallas Police Department

Takeaways from evolving story;

1)  Cop was exercising his duty to stop and question motorist.  Driving through a stop sign is potentially dangerous.

2) The manner in which questioning took place was totally unprofessional on the part of the cop. ( “”Shut your mouth.””)

3) Numerous times during the questioning, cop demonstrated complete lack of good judgement. When cop was told by another cop that the motorist’s mother-in-law was dying in the hospital, cop responded that he was almost finished writing the ticket.

4) The fact that the Dallas Police Chief issued an immediate apology to the motorist’s family speaks volumes. Rarely does the police department not support its officers or at least waits until the internal investigation is completed.

5) The Policeman’s Union issued an immediate apology to the motorist’s family.  Ditto.

6) Cop issued apology to motorist’s family. Probably done at request of  cop’s lawyers as part of  strategy for upcoming investigation and possible lawsuits.

7)  This cop’s career with Dallas Police Department is toast.