The world’s best tennis players and their fans are converging in Mason over the next week for the 2017 Western & Southern Open.
The tournament, which begins Saturday and will run through Aug. 20, has made notable changes to parking for the more than 200,000 fans, vendors and volunteers coming to the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Here are 5 things to know about parking and traffic during the tournament:
1. Improved parking lots
The Western & Southern Open invested $5 million in its parking lots, after record rainfall in 2016 resulted in several cars getting stuck in the unpaved public parking lots.
“Last year we had seven inches of rain in seven days, and that’s not normal rainfall,” said Will Sikes, director of marketing and communications for the Western & Southern Open.
Paved and compacted gravel driving lanes have been added to the lots, which were also flattened to improve drainage.
“(We improved the lots) because of (the record rainfall) and because it was part of our plan to expand and offer great parking. It was the right year to make the investment,” Sikes said.
In addition to improving the three public parking lots, 245 spots were added to the Diamond Lot, which are purchased on a weekly basis and are the closest paved spots to the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
2. Arrive early …
“Like (you would for) any large event, arrive early,” Sikes advises visitors. “Our attendants will happily help you into a spot.”
Sikes’s advice was echoed by Mason Assistant Police Chief Paul Lindenschmidt.
“Plan on leaving early for the matches,” he said. “They have done a considerable amount of work out there and they’re hopeful to get people parked and to their seats.”
3. … and be patient when leaving
“Have patience as you exit,” Lindenschmidt advised.
During tournament week, a majority of Mason’s police personnel will be working at all intersections and traffic lights around the tournament area, according to Lindenschmidt.
“The biggest traffic flow is between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. for the afternoon sessions, and from 5:30 to 7 p.m. for the evening sessions, Lindenschmidt said. “But there could be delays if some of the sessions overrun and go longer.”
4. New restaurants another reason to arrive early
This year’s tournament will feature several other additions as well.
Firehouse Subs, Flipside Burgers, and Prime Cincinnati were added to the event’s restaurant lineup, which also includes several local businesses.
A new practice court was also constructed, lights were added to match courts seven and eight, and 200 feet of LED video screens were installed at center court.
The tournament recently announced a new project for a $25 million building at the site.
5. Be mindful of construction areas around the tournament site
Road construction projects to improve access to Interstate 71 continues as part of Warren County’s Western Row Interchange project.
The $12.5 million relocation of Columbia Road from Western Row Road is nearly complete to better support traffic flow and improve the northbound ramp from Interstate 71.
Now, auxiliary lanes are being built on I-71 between Western Row Road and Ohio 741, which are designed to help to decrease congestion between the exits.