Local businesses cash in with tennis fans

BNP Paribas Open brings in millions for local businesses

POSTED: 05:56 PM PDT Mar 10, 2013    UPDATED: 05:56 PM PDT Mar 10, 2013 
BNP Business
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -

Tennis fans from around the world are now here in the desert for the BNP Paribas Open.  Fans supporting their favorite players are also helping to support hundreds of local businesses.

General manager at the Lake La Quinta Inn, Chris Chmielak, says business is up 25 percent over last year.

"We only have 13 rooms here at Lake La Quinta and we are wishing we had more this time of year."

Chmielak said the unique tournament experience keeps people coming back each year.  
"We have a lot of repeat guests that stay with us each year and the tennis is growing each year."

Guests say special treatment at the tournament, including autograph sessions with the players, add to the experience.  They also say the desert community is tourist-friendly.

"I'm just amazed with all the food the people, the restaurants and the culture, it's just phenomenal," said Jon Legarza, a tennis fan visiting from Las Vegas.

While fans soak in the excitement, tournament organizers are aiming for another year of record-breaking attendance.

They're hoping to attract more than 370,000 fans.

"We did a record day session attendance yesterday and we did a record night session attendance, as well, so that shows you that fans are responding well to a great lineup of all the top stars," said Matt Van Tuinen, the media relations director for the tournament.

Vendors like Jill LaCorte, a tennis bag designer, say business is booming.

"We are really doing well and I feel like the economy has helped a little bit because people are spending more money this year than last year and we have definitely noticed huge traffic."

Organizers say the event brings in an estimated $289 million in business each year, and most of that money will stay right here in the desert.

Looking ahead to next year, Chmielak is gearing up for a $1 million dollar renovation project that will include a wine bar and room upgrades at the hotel.

He's also teaming up with tournament organizers to create special packages that combine tennis passes with room reservations.

As Chmielak said "They're definitely making strides to keep us busy here in La Quinta."