Oct 10, 2023 - Business

Charlotte loses out on Western and Southern Open and a $400 million tennis complex

Beemok via City of Charlotte

Beemok via City of Charlotte

Charlotte has lost its pursuit to land a prestigious tennis tournament and the $400 million venue that would have hosted it.

Driving the news: Charleston billionaire Ben Navarro and his company Beemok Capital announced Tuesday they will keep the Western and Southern Open in the Cincinnati area.

  • “I really thought we would get it done. Our decision to stay was multi-faceted, but the consistent escalation of costs to construct a facility of this scale proved to be too much,” Ford Perry, COO of Beemok Capital, wrote in an email Tuesday to the city’s economic development director Tracy Dodson.

Why it matters: This would have been a monumental economic development win for Charlotte — and it would have put the city on an international stage.

  • The prestigious Masters 1000 tournament was estimated to make a $265 million impact in Charlotte. It would have drawn around 350,000 people to the River District in its infancy.

Flashback: Beemok Capital was considering moving the tournament to Charlotte after acquiring the rights to it last year. The group was seeking public incentives to cover one-third of the complex’s construction cost, or about $130 million.

  • The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County committed a combined $95 million. The state budget included $20 million, for a total of only $115 million.

Of note: The $65 million the city committed will remain in the Convention Center Fund, which is made up of money from food and beverage taxes. It could only be spent on another tourism project.

Meanwhile, in Ohio, government agencies pledged $130 million for tennis center renovations.

  • “The passion and commitment of this community to keep the tournament here was an undeniable factor in our decision to stay,” Navarro said of the Cincinnati area.
  • Navarro said they will “look for ways to invest in the [Charlotte] community and local tennis development in the future.”

Zoom out: The complex would have been part of the River District, a 1,400-acre mixed-use development underway in west Charlotte. Beemok was on an accelerated timeline. If they were to move the tournament, they wanted the venue to be done by 2026.

  • Crescent Communities says it’s looking forward to collaborating with the city, county and state on “future opportunities” for the site.
  • “This opportunity allowed the River District to prove itself as a highly desirable location for a large-scale facility of any kind, and we are now even better positioned for the next great opportunity that comes our way,” Crescent Communities said in a statement.

The intrigue: Navarro tried to buy the Carolina Panthers in 2018. Ultimately David Tepper, who paid about $2.2 billion in cash, won the bid, The Observer reported at the time.

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