By Erik Gudris
(March 7, 2011) The BNP Paribas Open, or as it’s more informally known due to its geographic location as just “Indian Wells,” is definitely a “destination” event in that one attends really to focus on watching world-class tennis and not much else. Not that fine dining, shopping and tourist attractions aren’t nearby, but if you’re looking for a big city vibe, then IW is not for you. But having said all of that, here are some tips for those looking to attend the event that’s been called the “tennis jewel of the desert” for their first time or to maximize their experience from last year.
Do You Really Need a Car?
Some people have asked me if it’s possible to attend IW without access to a car. It’s doable but will take some planning on your part. One can access the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where the tournament takes place, by a Sunline Transit Bus, either on Line 111 coming from Palm Springs or Cathedral City that will take you to Miles Avenue just behind the stadium or from Indian Wells or La Quinta on Line 70 that will take you up to Washington Avenue. Just be sure to double check all schedules and routes and allow plenty of time.
If traveling by car, you can park near the stadium or the site itself as parking elsewhere and walking is not really an option. Stadium orÂ â€œAâ€ lot parking is $25 per day while general parking outside the grounds in the G lot is $10 a day or $90 for the entire event. The â€œGâ€ lot is only a short walk to the main entrance so it’s by far the better deal especially if you are attending on multiple days. Just note that the â€œGâ€ lot can fill up early, so if you arrive later in the day or in the evening, you may be directed to the overflow or V lot farther away. Those parking in the V lot can ride a shuttle bus to and from the stadium.
Cars are lined up in the â€œGâ€ lot on a first in basis, so there’s really no way to secure a spot next to the exit. When you park, be sure to write down the closest letter/number designation for your area, especially if you plan on coming back later at night. I usually take a photo with my cell phone so I know the letter/number and the cars parked next to mine. And if want you to leave on time after the final day or night match of the session, leave early as waiting until match point could have you sitting in your car for up to an hour trying to get out.
What to Eat and What to Wear.
IW provides plenty of food and beverage options but I always try and pack a lunch and snacks for the day along with bringing two large bottles of water. Carrying big water bottles might wear you down but you’ll be amazed how fast you guzzle them dry especially on a hot day. Just remember to adhere to all event guidelines for bringing bags inside. If you prefer buying food onsite, just remember the prices are a tad high, but not nearly U.S. Open-like prices. Be sure to try the barbecue though as I remember that was quite tasty last year.
As far as clothing goes, wear layers, especially if you plan on attending a night session. The high desert area of California can turn chilly and windy rather quick in early March and temps can drop as low as 40 degrees F at night. And even if a day session has you showing off your well-toned tennis legs in shorts, remember that many of the IW courts have steel bleachers that reflect sunlight and can cause a decent sunburn. Wearing and applying sunblock throughout the day is a must.
What To Do Between Matches.
Many fans love that the practice courts at IW are right in front of the main stadium and this year the event announced they will be posting player’s practice times so you can know in advance when your favorites will be taking the courts. As always, get there early as it’s standing room only and the crowd of onlookers can get five deep rather quick.
The Indian Wells Tennis Garden has plenty of places to sit outside where you can watch the stadium match on several jumbo tennis monitors while walking to the shopping pavilions or while having a bite on the dining concourse which is my favorite as it allows you to keep up with the matches while doing some people watching as well. Also remember that throughout each day, special events are held including tennis chats and interviews, sometimes hosted by famed tennis writer Bud Collins, fashion shows, prize giveaways and of course player autographs sessions. Just be sure to check the website or daily program for times and locations.
Indian Wells attracts the very best players in the world while at the same time maintaining a very relaxed atmosphere that makes you feel like you are at a smaller event. Here’s hoping you have a great time in the desert!
For more information, visit the event’s website — http://www.bnpparibasopen.com The tournament will take place from March 7- 20.
Erik Gudris writes and moderates Adjustingthenet.com, a popular tennis news and commentary website. He will be covering the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, CA for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on Twitter @adjustingthenet