MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — On the major front to the Miami Dolphins’ stadium stands a statue of Dan Marino as a witness to a game-changing finishing touch.

A outstanding transformation is finished, and the advanced is in a position for tennis.

The Miami Open has moved 18 miles north from its location since 1987, the picturesque island of Key Biscayne, and can start Tuesday on the house of the Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes. Fits showcasing tennis’ highest gamers can be held within the stadium, with a short lived hardcourt masking the sector and the web placing above the 50-yard line.

“I would not say it is higher than a soccer crew, however it is one thing that is very thrilling,” mentioned Stephen Ross, who owns the Dolphins and the stadium. “I am excited to peer other folks’s response. There are such a large amount of skeptics available in the market.”

That comes with some gamers cautious of the ambience in a cavernous construction the place extra seats can be empty than complete, even for the finals on the finish of the month.

However as gamers trickle in, early evaluations are favorable. Cloth displays and brief stands on 3 facets difficult to understand lots of the unused seats, growing an incredibly comfortable really feel within the 65,000-seat stadium, the place the capability for tennis can be 13,800.

“It is like not anything I have ever observed,” mentioned event director James Blake, a former top-five participant. “To position a tennis court docket within a soccer stadium is one thing numerous gamers did not actually wrap their heads round. Now that they are right here and spot it, I feel they are very certain.”

There has additionally been a significant makeover within the automobile parking space south of the stadium, the place a spacious, fashionable event environment will come with the outer courts, good-looking hospitality spaces, tune, an artwork tent and the biggest video board in tennis, along side the relatively incongruous Marino statue.

There are extra lighted courts, apply courts and parking areas than on Key Biscayne, and higher participant amenities. Even so, a sentimental attachment to the outdated location lingers.

“Key Biscayne used to be at all times, like, the normal pressure over the bridge, and you might be at the water,” reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber mentioned. “So I can omit it, evidently.”

The previous website used to be around the side road from the seashore, and the scenic environment helped the event grow to be the biggest in tennis except the Grand Slams, prior to it all started to lose luster. IMG, which owns the Miami Open, made up our minds to transport after a 2015 court docket determination averted badly wanted upgrades to the advanced.

“It used to be a really perfect tournament, numerous historical past,” mentioned Roger Federer, a three-time event champion who first performed on Key Biscayne as a junior in 1998. “You recognize, it used to be regarded as the 5th slam again within the day.

“So I’ve obviously combined emotions in regards to the trade. I am hoping it is all for the easier, and I perceive the common sense in the back of it. However after all I can omit where.”

He will be in Miami this week to try the brand new digs, as will lots of the game’s different champions, from Serena Williams to Naomi Osaka to Novak Djokovic. Sponsors are enthusiastic, in step with IMG, and price tag gross sales are up 25 % over final 12 months.

“The way forward for this tournament is improbable to consider,” Blake mentioned. “The one prohibit is our creativeness.”

When the event started taking into consideration a brand new house, hypothesis about doable websites ranged from South The us to China. Fears rose that South Florida may lose the Miami Open, and Ross proposed the Dolphins’ suburban environment.

Williams, an eight-time Key Biscayne champion who owns a small percentage of the Dolphins, concept the speculation used to be loopy. So did IMG. However the corporate sooner or later agreed to spouse with the persuasive Ross, and development started a 12 months in the past.

“For somebody who has ever constructed a area, to assume this may well be inbuilt only one 12 months is actually wonderful,” Blake mentioned.

“In Miami, we understand how to place on a really perfect tournament,” Ross mentioned. “And this can be a really perfect house for the Miami Open.”

A lot of the makeover is Ross’ handiwork — he even picked out rest room tile. For the upscale tennis crowd, the website must grasp quite a lot of enchantment, from luxurious stadium seats and suites to newly planted $35,000 palm timber ushering spectators to the outer courts.

For lovers on the cheap, grounds passes get started at $15. The fee is upper for admission to the multisport mashup that may happen on middle court docket.

Billie Jean King’s celebrated 1973 victory over Bobby Riggs within the Combat of the Sexes packed the Houston Astrodome. An ATP Excursion event used to be held in Toronto’s SkyDome in 1990. The football stadium in Lille, France, lately hosted the Davis Cup.

However for this era of gamers, tennis in an NFL stadium is one thing other.

“By no means performed in a single,” Federer mentioned with a grin. “I am certain it’ll be thrilling, regardless that.”