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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
For most college tennis programs, a small tennis court complex with a few bleachers may be the biggest facility they see all season. So it would be of no surprise to both athletes and fans alike that initial reactions to the University of Miami’s tennis facility is equal to that of a kid arriving to Disney World; this place is big. Featuring a massive stadium seating arena atmosphere, Miami has raised the bar for college tennis around the nation. It is no wonder the school’s Neil Schiff Tennis Center is chosen to host early rounds of the NCAA tournament each year.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The biggest downside at the Neil Schiff Tennis Center is the lack of food. For regular season matches, the only option fans have is a lone vending machine downstairs with drinks. Upon rare occasion, a grill may be brought out for some concessions, but that is only during NCAA tournament rounds. Fans may have to resort to either eating before/after the match or to bringing their own snacks.
The stadium itself is fantastic. Seating and viewing options are plentiful around the facility. During hot days, fans can sit in the lower level bleachers that are covered by a light fabric to shield them from the harsh South Florida sun. On cooler days, and for a view from above, the upper level offers fans a great chance to take in the non-stop action on various courts from the grandstands on the second floor. There is even a corner platform for standing room viewing.
On the ground floor, various walkways criss-cross the courts on the ground, allowing for up close viewing of the matches at any of the courts, even those in the far back corner during larger tournaments. The best part of it all? The seating location under the palm trees along the far courts. This reminds many fans of a peaceful picnic area, shaded from the heat of the afternoon sun.
Miami's campus is situated right in the middle of the nicest part of the area, in Coral Gables. To the south, east, and north are more great neighborhoods, with Pinecrest/Palmetto Bay, Coconut Grove, and Brickell bordering the area respectively.
The architecture of the area, all the way down to the old stone corner street markers, makes it feel as if it is still in the older days of Miami. The trees are large, old, and majestic.
The food and shopping options are plentiful, with Sunset Place Mall just a stone's throw away, and Dadeland Mall not much farther.
One of the safest places in Miami, Coral Gables also has plenty of places to stay, with everything from your basic hotels to upscale resorts just a few minutes drive away.
The fans at Neil Schiff Tennis Center are loyal and hardy, coming from all over South Florida to cheer on their Canes. Some may be fans who have arrived early for a nearby baseball or basketball game. Others are just tennis fans from the surrounding upscale neighborhoods of Coral Gables and Coconut Grove. Most of them are also very sport knowledgeable, more than willing to lend a bit of information to any newcomers who don't quite understand the sport.
The University of Miami isn't exactly close to the highway. In fact, it isn't at all close to the highway. However, it is only a few miles down the road from an exit off one of the offshoots of the highway, and is right on US1, one of the main roads in South Florida.
For those who do not wish to drive into Coral Gables, there is a metrorail station literally across the street from the tennis center, making it perfect for a park-and-ride situation.
There are also several metro bus routes that pass by or around the UM campus. On-campus shuttles (the Hurry Cane) can take students (and anyone who happens to just blend in with students) across the campus and even to local places of interest like the Sunset Place Mall.
Additionally, there is plenty of parking on-site (though some are metered), so you won't have to walk far if you do decide to drive to the school.
The price of a ticket to see UM tennis is less than $10, meaning fans can catch some quality college tennis matches for a low price for the whole family. It is also close to Miami itself, making this a perfect way to start off a weekend when fans take in the tennis match on a Saturday morning before heading downtown for a visit to the beach.
The UM tennis team gives away team posters and other freebies throughout the season. They also offer giveaways to students who show up to games.
Another bonus is the convenience of attending other UM sporting events on campus, such as a baseball game or basketball game at the nearby venues.
Finally, who can say no to free parking on game day? For those who want to park right in front of the stadium, it is free, which cannot be said for baseball or track and field events on campus.
The Neil Schiff Tennis Center is one that is full of wonder. It is a large stadium that other major sports at colleges around the country would be envious of, let alone tennis teams. The viewing locations are plentiful, and fans will enjoy getting an up close view of the action. And for a low price, the fans can get in to see a sport that is often overlooked in South Florida.
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5813 Ponce De Leon Blvd
Coral Gables, FL 33146
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