Updated: Apr 14
The Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium March 2023
After hearing lots of negative reviews of the Miami Open, I decided to check it out for myself!
I've been to lots of tennis tournaments, as well as lots of professional football games. However, this was the first time I went to a professional tennis tournament, hosted at a professional football stadium! Weird, right? Perhaps, but it was pretty incredible!
Lots of people find the Hard Rock Stadium venue disappointing, and I get it. It's definitely not Indian Wells. The BNP Paribas Open, the first stop in the Sunshine Double, is a tennis players paradise. There are lots of great hotels and rental homes close to Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Most of the surrounding hotels have shuttle services, some people ride their bikes to the venue, it's pretty incredible.
Indian Wells is an outlier though. The US Open for example, is held at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York. Most people, players included, stay in Manhattan, which is about 45 minutes by car (unless you're like Taylor Fritz and take a private helicopter). I live in Arizona, and when people come to visit and attend an Arizona Cardinal's game, they probably don't stay in Glendale by the stadium. They likely stay in Scottsdale where there is shopping, dining, nightlife, and art galleries. Basically, I think the distance between the stadium and the desirable area to stay, Miami Beach, is a fairly common occurrence when it comes to professional sports venues. Sure, there are exceptions, but I wasn't really bothered by it. I knew I would have to Uber to and from the venue, and it was an expected expense. Based on the players social media posts, it seems like most of them stay in the Brickell neighborhood (about 35 minutes by car from Hard Rock Stadium).
One of my Uber drivers referred to the area surrounding Hard Rock Stadium as "the hood." It was the neighborhood he grew up in, and he spoke fondly of it. He commented about how the television networks portray Miami sports. He said, "If you watch a Dolphins game on television, they show the stadium, then they show South Beach. They don't want to show you the hood." It made me a little sad.
Getting There: Where I Stayed & Why
I had never been to Miami before, and wanted to stay in Miami Beach. Although I didn't have a ton of time to explore, I would probably stay there again. I stayed at the Eden Roc Hotel, in what's considered mid beach. It shares a lobby with the NOBU hotel, which was a little odd, but very beautifully decorated. It's just a block or two away from the famous Fountainbleau Miami Beach hotel. I had a list of restaurants, shops, and art museums I wanted to visit, but it was such a short trip, I didn't get to any of them. More reasons to go back! I did love the area. I went on a short morning walk each day before getting ready and heading over to Hard Rock Stadium. There were beautiful yachts in the lakefront west of the hotel, I saw the University of Miami rowing team practicing, and the beach to the east was the most beautiful blue. The staff at Eden Roc was awesome, especially the bartenders at Ocean Social, the beachfront restaurant on the property. I had breakfast each morning at the bar, and they were always kind enough to turn on Tennis Channel for me. I stopped in after my last day at the tournament for dinner and a cocktail, and the crowd was pretty lively. Most of them had probably been at the pool or the beach, and were a few drinks in. I sat in front of the television to watch tennis, and there was a guy next to me who was pretty drunk. I was nice, but didn't encourage conversation. I really appreciated the bartender keeping an eye on the scenario. Eventually, drunk guy said I was boring and went to talk to someone else! Me, boring? Pfff, he was obviously very drunk :)
My First Impressions: Sticky Icky
Day one at the tournament was a bit rough. My flight from Phoenix landed at midnight, and by the time I checked in, unpacked, and finally got to sleep, it was close to 3am Miami time. Needless to say, I was tired. It was also super humid! I had my hair down, trying to be cute, and it was not the right call. I had stadium tickets for this day and the lineup was pretty stellar. Maria Sakkari vs Bianca Andreescu, followed by Taylor Fritz vs Emilio Nava, followed by Carlos Alcaraz vs Facundo Bagnis. The only bummer was my seat. It was in the blazing hot sun! I stayed for Maria vs Bianca as long as I could bear, then set off to explore the rest of the property.
The main promenade is packed with modern shaded seating, fun Miami street art, and tennis shops like Lacoste, and Tennis Plaza. Rows of food trucks and pop-up bars and restaurants provide just about anything you're craving. From sushi and oysters, to burgers and tacos, you're sure to find something yummy. You can check out the newest SUV from Cadillac (one to the tournament sponsors), test your tennis skills, or even get a birds-eye view from a Skyview Gondola. Of course the tennis is awesome, but the campus is so fun! I popped up to the Maestro Doubel Tequila Bar for a special cocktail hour with Taylor Fritz and Juan Martin Del Potro which was such a blast. Tennis inspired cocktails, ping pong, Wii Tennis, and great people watching could've kept me entertained for hours!
Who Would Love This Tournament?
Do you like tennis? Do you like to have fun? Do you like to party? Do you like latin culture?Then this tournament is for you! The hot steamy atmosphere encourages light, airy clothing, sun kissed skin, and ice cold drinks. I saw some of the most beautiful people, great Miami style, and there's a major party vibe in the air. There's nothing like watching a super intense tennis match, while a day club bumps Pit Bull songs in the background.
Honestly, I almost prefer the Miami Open crowd over what Serena Williams referred to as the, "blue-haired Palm Springs jet-setter(s)" of Indian Wells. People are so nice in Miami! I was by myself, and shade was sparse. People would scoot around for me to squeeze in, I borrowed some sunblock from a nice red-haired, freckled family, when my vitiligo spots were getting red, and the most fun was being right in the middle of a group of Brazilian fans cheering on Beatrice Hadad-Maia! I was an honorary Brazilian! Even though I was by myself, it never felt that way, and I loved it!
If the tennis is your priority, and you'd rather sit and watch hours of tennis, perhaps Indian Wells is more your speed. However, if you'd like to watch some tennis, spend a day at the beach, spend a day shopping, a day at the museum, and a day drinking by the pool, then Miami all the way!
The Final Score: Miami Is Pretty Sweet!
While I haven't been to all of the stops on the ATP and WTA tours, I feel like the places I have been give me a nice frame of reference. Each individual city has its own appeal, and its a very personal choice. I love to explore new places, experience different cultures, and truly engross myself in a new place. I like to spend time watching television series, reading books, and learning about a new place before I visit. Miami has a rich culture heavily influenced by Latin America, and I find it to be a very special place. I am definitely looking forward to going back, spending more time exploring, and enjoying amazing tennis!
Have you been to the Miami Open? What are your thoughts? I'd love to know!
Click or scan the QR code below to see all the great spots in my Miami guide! You can also save them to your smartphone maps app!