A career full of firsts behind him, John McEnroe will experience another Saturday night at the BNP Paribas Open when he helps open the new Stadium 2 at the McEnroe Challenge for Charity presented by Esurance.
“There are certain things that you get to do that you didn’t think you’d ever have the chance to and helping open a stadium is one of them,” the seven-time major champion said Friday night.
McEnroe will be joined by former doubles partner Peter Fleming, two-time BNP Paribas Open champion Jim Courier and another doubles specialist in Rick Leach as the four men battle to win prize money for local charities.
“The charity angle of this whole event is awesome,” McEnroe added. “We feel like we’re giving back. Very rarely do I play in front of that many people, so it’s quite exciting for me. This is definitely high on my list.”
Completed in just over 10 months, the world-class Stadium 2 is expected to be full Saturday night for the Challenge, all 8,000 seats.
“What a thrill,” said Fleming. “It’s a real honor to be one of the first people to play in this stadium.”
Stadium 2 includes world-class cuisine in Nobu, Chop House and Piero’s PizzaHouse, all the vision of tournament owner Larry Ellison. With the help of Indian Wells Tennis Garden CEO Raymond Moore, Ellison helped see through the expansion project in less than a year.
“Ray Moore, Charlie Pasarell and Mr. Ellison have done such an amazing job with this tournament,” Fleming added. “It’s just grown and grown. This is getting into the company of the Slams at this point.”
Read more about the McEnroe Challenge for Charity AFTER THE JUMP.
“We had to find a unique way to unveil the new stadium, and did so with four Grand Slam winners in this event,” Moore said. “We wanted to give back to the community while doing so.”
Moore’s charity, the War Casualty Fund is one of the four that will benefit from the evening of play. Childhelp USA, Eisenhower Medical Center and Family YMCA of the Desert will split the $80,000 with the War Casualty Fund, with players assigned to a certain charity.
“We want to this event to be the opening of the BNP Paribas Open each year,” said tournament director Steve Simon. “I can tell you that it’ll be here next year.”
What has transpired in the span of one year at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden has left McEnroe in awe.
“It’s pretty outstanding to see how fast they built it,” he said. “I could see from a distance on TV how they have continued to transform this space. It’s really nice to see how much Larry Ellison has bought into this.”
McEnroe said he always enjoys winning over losing, but can’t promise one of his famous outbursts.
“I realized a long time ago that it’s a lot better to win than lose,” he said. “But if I don’t get mad, fans can’t complain.”