In June, Charlotte City Council approved up to $65 million to help build a $400 million, 50-acre tennis complex in the River District. In July, the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners approved up to $30 million for the same project. That leaves August, when local backers hope to secure an additional $25 million from the North Carolina General Assembly.
The state’s contribution would complete a $120 million incentives offer aimed at convincing Beemok Capital to build the complex and relocate the Western & Southern Open professional tennis tournament here in 2026.
How and when state government puts money into the incentives package remains a bit murky. Legislators in the Republican majority as well as representatives in Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper’s office have said they like the proposal but have been noncommittal about next steps.
The uncertainty has not (yet) caused panic, but there are time constraints. Charlotte is competing against Cincinnati, where the Western & Southern Open started in 1899, for the annual tournament. The 40-court tennis center only makes sense for Charleston-based Beemok if the company brings the annual tournament here; Beemok bought the Western & Southern Open last year.
How could NC provide funding for tennis complex?
The General Assembly is in the waning weeks of its current session, with the full budget likely to be approved by mid-August. The likely path for state funding for the tennis center in Charlotte would be as one of the many add-ons in the budget.
Beemok executive Ford Perry told city and county leaders during an earlier discussion and presentation that the company intends to determine its long-term future by the end of the summer.
The Western & Southern Open will be played Aug. 12-20 at its longtime home in the Cincinnati suburb of Mason. Local and state government in Ohio have pledged a minimum of $50 million for improvements to the existing Lindner Family Tennis Center in order to keep the tournament.
The Mason tournament site includes four stadium courts with capacities ranging from 2,500 to 11,435. Beemok wants to build new or expanded player locker rooms, nutrition and health areas, and offices. Organizers say they need more courts because the eight-day, 56-player field is increasing to 14 days and 96 players in 2025.
The Western & Southern Open is one of five tournaments in the world — other than the four major championships — and three in the U.S. that boast a top-tier designation for men’s and women’s players. That’s a long way of saying the event attracts the best players, including 19 of the top 20 in 2022. It also benefits from a plum spot on the tennis calendar, leading into the U.S. Open, when players want to hone their games.