[Images Courtesy BNP Paribas Open]
They call it “Tennis Paradise,” and who is going to argue with that? On October 4, the BNP Paribas Open returns to the beautiful Indian Wells Tennis Garden where there’s top-notch tennis action on the courts and an unparalleled fan experience on the grounds.
Outside of the four Grand Slam events, the BNP Paribas Open is traditionally one of most attended tennis tournament in the world. Knowing that, and in light of the continuing public health crisis, it’s helpful to go in to the Tennis Garden prepared with a knowledge of the lay of the land.
To ensure the health and safety of everyone involved with the event, the 2021 BNP Paribas Open will require all fans, volunteers, staff, sponsors, media, and vendors—without exception—to show valid proof of full vaccination in order to enter the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for the tournament. Further details on the vaccination verification process will be provided as the tournament draws closer.
Depending on the COVID-19 conditions at the time of the tournament, additional testing as well as mask mandates in certain seating areas may be required by the Riverside County health department and the state of California.
Ticket All the Right Boxes
If vaccination is the first step, purchasing tickets will be the second step. The first weekend of the BNP Paribas is always particularly popular with fans as action ramps up and top seeds take to the court. To avoid disappointment, either attend on a weekday or buy tickets well in advance for the weekend.
Admission for the first two days of the tournament are free of charge to watch qualifiers playing for a chance to compete in the tournament. If what you really want to do is sip champagne under the palms or buy some tennis togs, it’s a great deal. You’ll only have to pay for parking. Of course, you’ll also be able to see some great tennis action as the up-and-comers take to the court.
Otherwise, once the tournament is fully underway, the cheapest ticket option is to buy a Grounds Pass. You’re free to roam and watch the action on a variety of courts—everywhere except Stadium 1. Your access to Courts 2-9 will be restricted to the unreserved seating sections, but you’ll love the intimate experience that they offer.
If you really want to be inside Stadium 1, the next step up from a Grounds Pass is to buy a ticket for Stadium 1 at the loge level. It allows you entry into the stadium and everything it has to offer—including its restaurants. A box seat is the thing if you’re either a big fan or feeling splurgy. And if you plan wisely and get lucky with the draw, you’re likely to see the stars in action.
Miles to Go
Tickets in hand, it’s time to head to the Tennis Garden. Start by reviewing the BNP Paribas Open website before you head out. The Indian Wells Tennis Garden site map is particularly useful with directions to the tournament and information on parking and entrance locations. Public parking is located in the General Lot off of Miles Avenue. Bike parking is available adjacent to the east and north entrances. The closest public bus stops are at Washington Street and Fred Waring, served by Sunline Transit’s Routes 6 and 7.
Make Your Match
When it comes to deciding which match to watch, especially in the early days when the field of players is still sizeable, it’s smart to be a bit flexible and be prepared to live in the moment. Fortunately, you needn’t have any “fear of missing out” at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Download the BNP Paribas official mobile app, and you’ll have match schedules and live scoring at your fingertips. If you want to size up the action, pay attention to the multiple big screens around Stadium 1 as well as small screens situated in the food and beverage pavilions. If there’s a particularly interesting match happening on an outlying court, pop on over to check it out.
The practice courts, where you can watch tennis greats slug it out and prep for upcoming matches, are the real hot spots but hardly a secret. The posted schedule is watched intently by fans. Trust us, if top players are warming up, there’s going to be a group of folks waiting to see the greatest in the game up close. But the practice courts are more comfortable than ever with seating that was repurposed from Stadium 1, so if you’re so inclined, come early, grab a seat and stay a while.
If you try to get a glimpse of the practice action but find it hard to see the players, climb to the top row on the west side of Stadium 4 and peer over the wall for a great view of the courts. Stadium 1 also offers an elevated position to take in the practice courts, if you have a ticket that allows you access, but it’s a bit further back so lacks some of the punch.
Get the Gear, Drink the Beer
It’s hard to attend an event without a souvenir or two, but it’s fair to say that shopping is a big deal for some folks at the tournament. Let’s face it, for tennis players, there’s an unbeatable selection of the latest gear on hand. Sponsor Fila has its own pop-up shop that’s packed with apparel, shoes and accessories in the latest color schemes. Tennis Warehouse serves up tennis equipment and has its own practice court available so you can test-drive the racquet of your dreams. (Plus you can always claim that you played tennis at the BNP Paribas Open!)
You will not go hungry at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. There are numerous restaurants, concessions and snack vendors set up to satiate your hunger or quench your thirst. A few of these spots, including Spago, are only accessible to fans with a Stadium 1 ticket. Otherwise, all other restaurants, including Nobu in Stadium 2, are available to every fan. While there’s a lot to be said for fine dining with a courtside view, don’t underestimate the pleasure of grabbing a burger and beverage and relaxing in the canopied seating area on the grounds.
When you’re spending so much time outdoors, hydration is all-important. You are allowed to bring one bottle of water into the stadium with you, and there are multiple water refill stations around the grounds which will help you achieve that goal.
Don’t Leave Home With (Or Without) It
On the subject of what you can and can’t bring with you, there is a “Clear Bag” policy in place at the Tennis Garden that’s in line with what is used other major sporting events such as the NFL and PGA. Fans are limited to bringing in what will fit inside a 12 x 6 x 12 clear plastic or vinyl bag, or a one gallon Ziploc-style food storage bag. In addition to that, fans can also carry a small clutch or wristlet-size purse or wallet, no larger than 4.5” x 6.5”. Jackets and loosely held blankets are also allowed. Seat cushions are allowed if they don’t have zippers, pockets or concealed areas and are 18” or less wide. Diaper bags and bags carrying medically-required needs are allowed but will be thoroughly searched. Bags that don’t meet the tournament requirements must be returned to the owner’s vehicle.
In that clear bag of yours, be sure to pack everything you may need for a day in the desert, including sunscreen, lip balm and that bottle of water. A small pair of binoculars may be fun if you’re seated a bit further away from the action, but aren’t strictly necessary to enjoy the action. You’ll want to have cash on hand for parking.
The Indian Wells Tennis Garden is a stunningly beautiful spot in which to hold a sporting event. Be sure to make some memories by capturing photos of this unique setting. The BNP Paribas Flower Wall is a can’t-miss location for “Instagramability.” The Moet and Chandon Palm Circle is another great spot for selfie opportunities in addition to celebrating the day with a little bubbly. And be sure to keep an eye on the setting sun and how the changing light plays out on the desert mountains around the Tennis Garden. Take a few steps up to any of the elevated views from the stadiums and you’ll have the perfect shot to capture the look and feel of this unique Tennis Paradise.
For more information, or to purchase your tickets, please visit the tennis tournament’s official website.