As New York City remains the country’s epicenter for the coronavirus outbreak, USTA officials may elect to hold the 2020 US Open tennis tournament on the West Coast. That is the reported contingency plan via Spanish publication MARCA as fans await the fate of the sport’s North American grand slam.
The report suggests that tournament officials could move the event from New York to Indian Wells, California in order to avoid cancelling altogether, as Wimbledon has already done. There is some merit to the thought, as Indian Wells Tennis Garden plays host to the BNP Paribas Open which has been referred to as the “fifth grand slam of tennis.” The California complex boasts 29 courts for competition along with a 16,000-seat main stadium, which is the second-largest tennis venue in the world only behind New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The 23,000-seat Ashe Stadium currently serves as a temporary hospital and other parts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center are providing supplemental relief while New York healthcare workers battle thousands of coronavirus cases. This temporary set up, along with recommended guidelines from health experts, have cast doubt on the 2020 US Open. USTA officials will make an official call regarding the tournament in June based on the virus’ trajectory and public health concerns.
Even if officials decide to play the tournament in California, relocation could present several difficulties. California Governor Gavin Newsom has claimed he does not foresee any mass gatherings taking place in the state through much of the summer and perhaps beyond. The state has amassed over 41,000 coronavirus cases and is under an indefinite stay-at-home order, which Newsom said will only be lifted upon meeting certain criteria. Then there is the question of scheduling. The US Open is set to take place August 31 to September 13. But the abrupt postponement of the French Open has that tournament now scheduled to start only a week after the conclusion of the US Open, leaving players with a lightning-fast turnaround to travel from potentially Southern California to Paris, practice on a new court surface and prep for another major tournament.
Nonetheless, a West Coast US Open could provide California tennis fans with the excitement they missed out on already this spring. The BNP Paribas Open was cancelled last month and set off a domino effect of other sports cancellations as well as the postponement of area music festivals Coachella and Stagecoach.