The crowd stood around the perimeter of the exhibition kitchens to watch the chefs prepare the two courses, the first of which needed to include crab and the second, skirt steak.
The Citi Open, formerly the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, expanded its event footprint, audience, and number of matches this year with the addition of a Women’s Tennis Association event in conjunction with the all-male Association of Tennis Professionals tournament. With more than 100 matches scheduled from July 30-August 5, organizers built two addition grandstands on the William H.G. Fitzgerald Tennis Center property in Rock Creek Park.
“We had our inaugural Citi Open last year with a W.T.A. event in College Park, not in combination with the men’s event,” said special events manager Lily Fardshisheh. “Citi is relatively new to the sport of tennis, and as a sponsor of the Olympics, their brand ambassadors are really looking into the sports industry in general. And because they were interested in the men’s event as well, it was a perfect fit.”
The temporary grandstands took B&K Rentals about a week to erect and can seat 2,500 and 1,500 people each. Combined with the 7,500-seat main stadium, the tournament is expected to host nearly 72,000 spectators throughout its nine days of matches and pre-tournament events. The attendance is on par with previous years despite some top talent being unavailable this year because of the Summer Olympics.
Outside of the tennis itself, the grounds of the center offer entertainment and relaxation options from more than 50 sponsors. Citi, Lexus, and Corona all have on-site tents with video and radio feeds of the matches, ping-pong tables, and Adirondack beach chairs, respectively.
The grounds also hosted post-match special events each night. On Monday, Top Chef star Bryan Volaggio and Victor Albisu, formerly of BLT Steak, participated in an Iron Chef-style competition with Albisu walking away the winner by just a half-point margin. Tuesday night Corona Extra hosted its signature Alumni Night party with tailgate favorites like corn hole, beef sliders, pretzel bites, and corn on the cob. The nighttime festivities continue Thursday with a wine tasting from Epic Cellars sponsored by Lexus. Saturday Geico will sponsor a Military Appreciation day with military personnel receiving free admission before the tournament wraps up on Sunday.
(Originally published 8.1.12 in BizBash)
**Photos: Tony Brown/Imijination Photography