English Sources

Crooning planned for Tennis Garden
Marie McCain / The Desert Sun

INDIAN WELLS - Four-time Grammy winner Luis Miguel will bring his Mexico en la Piel Tour to the Coachella Valley this October with a one-night-only show at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, officials announced Monday.
Produced by AEG Live, the Oct. 2 concert will be the first music-event held at the Tennis Garden since the 2003 performance by opera tenor Andrea Bocelli.

"We definitely hope to sell out this concert," said Eric Kohler, a spokesman for AEG Live, a St. Louis-based entertainment company that produces sporting and entertainment events nationally and internationally.

Tennis Garden execs are confident the Latin superstar's appearance will bolster their efforts to expand the facility beyond its origins as the home of the Pacific Life Open, the fifth-largest tennis tournament in the world.

Raymond Moore, president of PM Sports, which owns 50 percent of the Tennis Garden, said Luis Miguel's concert is a precursor to a proposed fall concert series featuring at least two more groups.

He declined to say, however, which artists might take part in the series, he said it is a "coup" to be working with AEG, which is involved with numerous venues across the country, including Los Angeles' Staples Center and The Forum.

"We are very excited about this concert. We think he will play well in this market. He is very well-known here," Moore said of Miguel. "The whole point of this is to create a multi-faceted stadium."

He added that workers are now building a special stage that can be adapted to the needs of the various artists who might soon perform at the Tennis Garden.

Monday's announcement is the latest layer in the struggling facility's bid to remain viable. Earlier this year, International Management Group, the Cleveland-based sports and cultural event company that owns the other half of the Tennis Garden, announced plans to sell its part.

Built in 2000, the $77 million complex carries a $39 million mortgage at 8 percent interest.

Because of that rate, the Pacific Life Open has been losing money since 2002 despite increased attendance and growing revenue.

Moore and his business partner Charlie Pasarell, both local residents, hope to refinance the loan and obtain a 6 percent interest rate, which would decrease the current $3.9 million annual debt.

But to do that they first need to get the money to buy out IMG.

They have been putting together a group of private investors to raise the necessary funds, while also exploring ways to beef up the Tennis Garden's uses.

The facility seats about 16,100. But only about 10,000 of those seats, factoring in the new stage, would need to be filled to translate into a successful concert, Moore said.

Greg Johnson, Indian Wells city manager, and City Councilman Rob Bernheimer said they were pleased with Monday's announcement.

"We always wanted to see the Tennis Garden utilized for something besides tennis," Johnson said. "This is very good news and we hope to see more of (these events) in the future."

Bernheimer, author of a proposed ballot issue that would increase the city's 5 percent ticket tax to as high as 10 percent, called the news "fabulous."

Voters will take up the proposal on Nov. 8.

If approved, the tax hike - which would recoup a portion of the city's $5.7 million investment in the Tennis Garden - would not take effect until 2007.