Cincinnati Tournament To Build $25 Million South Building with Air-Conditioned Box Seats

Projected view of Cincinnati Masters tournament new construction 2018 South building with air-conditioned box seats
Simulated view of Center Court with new South Building planned for 2018 debut.

The Western & Southern Open, aka the Cincinnati Masters, has announced plans for a five-story, $25 million dollar building to be constructed between the Center and Grandstand courts. Dubbed the “South Building,” the new glass-enclosed, air-conditioned mecca of box seats, dining, and other exclusive amenities will nearly double the interior space of the existing structure.

Some of you who attend the event regularly may remember getting a survey about the proposed building last year, with questions designed to gauge interest in the velvet rope treatment at Cincy. Apparently there was a substantial amount of interest from fans in paying a higher ticket price for a safe-from-the-elements tennis experience.

Cincinnati Center Court current 2017 view of stadium and existing South Building
View of the Western and Southern Open Center Court as it looks in 2017.

Directly above you can see what the Cincy Center Court looks like currently, and what fans will see when they attend the event this coming August. Once the joint ATP/WTA tournament is over, however, groundbreaking will commence on the new South Building. The press release promises that construction will be complete in time for the 2018 Open, scheduled for August 11-19, 2018.

The new 40,000 square foot, 104-foot-tall structure will have different levels offering views of one or both marquee match courts. Overall, Center Court seating will increase to 11,750 from 11,467.

Western and Southern Open Cincinnati South Building second floor interior view restaurant area Center and Grandstand views
Cutaway view of planned second floor interior of new Cincy South Building.

The split-level 2nd floor will host a restaurant and bar, in an open floor plan that leads to cascading indoor, air-conditioned box seats, presumed to be the first in professional tennis. The extra-wide, 252 stadium seats sit behind glass and have access to the adjoining restaurant and bar.

Western and Southern Open new South building 2nd floor restaurant box seats interior photos
Simulated view of 2nd floor restaurant overlooking enclosed box seating in new Cincy South Building.

This would be a rather unique experience for fans used to outdoor seating and grabbing a quick bite to eat in the outside food court. The air-conditioned space provides not only a refuge from sunburn and heat, but also a haven during rain delays. Covered areas have always been scarce at Cincy, so a refuge from the inevitable thunderstorms will be a welcome benefit for new box seat holders. An added bonus is being able to dine comfortably during rain delays, rather than huddling under an umbrella out in the food court seating area.

Unlike individually owned suites, this 2nd floor seating offers a more communal fan experience for those who enjoy cheering on their favorite players in a like-minded crowd. One thing to consider is that, particularly with the restaurant open to the seating, it could get pretty loud in this area. Those who are looking for that whisper-quiet Wimbledon atmosphere might be dissatisfied with this particular arrangement.

Third Floor plan for 2018 South Building Western and Southern Open Mason Ohio
Planned 3rd floor interior and outdoor box seats in new South Building at the Western & Southern Open.

For those that enjoyed the covered outdoor seating as it is currently arranged on Center Court, the third floor area could be for you. This area holds 396 new outdoor box seats and an interior space with concessions, a bar, gathering areas and restrooms.

Cincy South buildong third floor lounge interior
Simulated view of Cincy South Building 3rd floor lounge interior.

This is best-of-both-worlds option, as it’s more of the stadium experience of viewing tennis while still offering shelter from the elements. It’s also only a short walk away for refreshments and gathering with friends.

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While those with regular seats in the stadium may lament not having access to indoor concessions, the positive aspect is that all this new seating won’t be putting further strain on the already overcrowded food court. Considering that the new building also replaces existing seats, it could even lessen some of the foot traffic through the outdoor dining areas.

Cincinnati South Building new construction plans for 2018 fourth floor interior suites photos
Proposed plan for 4th floor suites in new Cincinnati Masters South Building.

The 4th floor includes six all-inclusive suites with 126 total seats and a shared space for food and refreshments. From the rendering above, it looks like the suites will have both interior and exterior seating. From that lofty height, the occupants should have a full-court view of the action on Center.

The 5th floor will house a “state-of-the-art broadcast and production center,” which though not illustrated in the promotional materials, definitely sounds more impressive than the tiny strip of broadcast booths that currently exist on the site. For an additional look at the proposed South Building, take a look at the video below. You can also find the latest news on the project at ExperienceSouthBuilding.com.

The project was designed by the architecture firm Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf (BDMD), based in Indianapolis. “The building is chock-full of amenities. Every square foot was designed with the intention of bringing the things that fans need — restrooms, bars, concessions and air conditioning — to these new areas. We’re especially excited about the climate-controlled box seats, truly an innovation in the sport of professional tennis,” remarked BDMD architect Greg Jacoby. Cincinnati-based Shumacher Dugan will manage construction.

Hopefully the architects have also considered the fans outside the new South Building, as well as the players. With a 5-story wall of glass now facing Center Court, there could be some issue with glare, as our friend Melissa B pointed out on Twitter:

For those who may have missed Rafael Nadal’s recent loss to Gilles Muller at this year’s Wimbledon, the Spanish player was bothered by some glare from shiny panels near the top of the stadium. The umpire asked a few obliging fans to stand in front of the glare to help Rafa out. In the case of Cincy’s new giant mutha’ of a picture window, Rafa would need Paul Bunyan to stand in front of any reflections that may occur.

One possible bonus from the massive structure is that it could offer a bit of shade to more seats then the previous building, though obviously an East/West building would have a greater effect in that way.

The Western & Southern Open has been continually making improvements in recent years. A $5 million dollar project this year includes an additional practice court with expanded seating for marquee players, new LED “ribbon” screens on Center Court, lighting added to two additional courts (for a total of eight), and much-needed upgrades to the parking areas after last year’s rainstorms turned them into an off-roading mudslide event.

What do you think of the new South Building project at Cincy? I have to admit, I’m hoping we’ll get a tour of the new building when it debuts next year, as the renderings look pretty spectacular. Will you be reserving your spot in the new building or waiting to see what the finished product looks like? Is an expensive suite something completely irrelevant to your tournament experience? Let us know in the comments, or feel free to tweet us @TennisInsideOut!

FYI: Sales for all areas of the new Cincy South Building will begin at the tournament in a special sales center located in the retail plaza. You can also reserve seats now via the official website ExperienceSouthBuilding.com.



Source: Western & Southern Open press release

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