MONTREAL - Rogers Cup organizers in Montreal have ripped a page out of the NBA's book to give fans an unforgettable front-row experience at Uniprix Stadium.
Forty luxury seats have been placed directly on to centre court, just in front of the photographers. The new seating has generated about $250,000 in revenues for Tennis Canada's development programs.
"I was inspired by the NBA," tournament director Eugene Lapierre said. "These tickets were sold quickly to companies who can offer something entirely new to their special guests."
Fans seated at courtside were unanimous in their praise.
"I love it," Montrealer Joanne Eisman told QMI Agency. "You feel so close to the action.
"You hear everything that's being said on the court and you can really grasp the power and speed of these elite players."
She said there's another advantage to getting up close and personal.
"You're more likely to get autographs," she said with a broad smile, while adding that VIP seating comes with risks.
"Always be alert and never take your eyes off the ball because you can be hit by a missile," she said.
Also new this year at Uniprix Stadium are expanded loges on top of the bleachers. The boxes feature sofas, a catered buffet and a bar. There's also a new and more spacious press centre.
Average fans also were offered a new way to take in top-level tennis. There was a lot of buzz about Court 9, a court surrounded by temporary bleachers in the corner of the stadium grounds where fans could take in matches for free.
"It's important to connect with people who live in the neighbourhood," Lapierre said. "Tennis is not reserved for those who drive luxury cars."