At the end of March, it was hard to believe renovations to the Credit One Stadium would be ready in time for the Credit One Charleston Open. Bob Moran, president of Charleston Tennis LLC, laughed at the idea, though. As the man in charge of all stadium operations, he had big plans and had no doubt they would happen on time for the tournament.
With 90% of the project completed, all that remained were finishing touches like landscaping, erecting temporary stands and tents, smoothing out a new back entrance for the stadium and bringing furniture inside to VIP rooms.
“It’ll be a completely different look,” Moran said.
For two years, the stadium has been closed for extensive renovations following a $50 million investment from Charleston Open owner and local billionaire and philanthropist Ben Navarro. The construction combined with the looming pandemic forced last year’s then-Volvo Car Open to take place in a temporary stadium to zero capacity.
This year, from April 2-10, the new stadium welcomed fans and more than 100 of the greatest female players from around the world to serve in the Women’s Tennis Association tournament, for which Credit One Bank is the title sponsor. On April 10, Belinda Bencic of Switzerland won the women’s singles division, while Magda Linette, from Poland, and Andreja Klepac, representing Slovenia, ruled the doubles tournament.
Headquartered in Las Vegas and affiliated with Sherman Financial in Charleston, Credit One Bank has a large card member base in the Southeast. Increasing national branding as a title sponsor of the tournament was one of the biggest driving factors for getting involved, said Michael Norris, head of sponsorships for Credit One Bank.
“We want to be here for a long time, and with this new facility, there’s going to be a lot of entertainment to go along with women’s tennis, so I think there’s a lot of ways for our brand to activate in the area for years to come,” Norris said.
Credit One Bank first collaborated with the Charleston tennis scene in 2020 for the Credit One Invitational, a tournament that raised funds for health care workers in the area. The event also served as Credit One’s entry into the tennis market. The financial company donated some of the proceeds to Medical University of South Carolina and other local hospitals and hospital groups.
“We saw great success in that tournament and Bob (Moran) actually approached us in regard to moving forward with being the title sponsor for the tournament this year,” Norris said. “We were thrilled.”
Knowing the magnitude of the renovations and the investment put into the updates, Credit One was eager to make the annual women’s tennis tournament the company’s first title sponsorship.
“What better way to do that in Charleston, you know? There’s such a great history in the tournament here,” Norris said.
With upfits and renovations, the Daniel Island stadium has increased seating capacity from 7,000 to 11,000. The original bleachers remain, but 16 permanent hospitality suites ranging from 20 to 30 people have been added. Guests can enjoy fully conditioned private rooms, complete with kitchens and bathrooms, that open to private patios and open views of the court.
A new Wando Entrance connects a path to the docks in front of The Kingstide and the Yacht Club. The Daniel Island boat shuttle will run back and forth from the landing, a 700-yard walk to the front gate.
To offer even more convenience for patrons, the Credit One Stadium is also a fully card and mobile payment venue with reverse ATMs located throughout the stadium’s concourse level.
Behind the courts, a newly built 35,000-square-foot stage house offers VIP guests, athletes and entertainers a private experience with anything they could need, including a private dining area, lounge and golf simulator.
The house also offers a gym, plenty of televisions to watch live action, training rooms, a large media room to allow press members their own space for a day of coverage, a commercial kitchen for vendors to make meals on-site and so much more.
“I guarantee we missed a bunch, but at the same time, you do the best you can and learn as you go,” Moran said.
For musicians, the original stadium wasn’t user-friendly for unpacking gear and loading it onto the stage, Moran said, but the new building answers to that issue.
Trucks can now drive into two loading docks and unload equipment. Handlers can then roll gear straight onto the stage or into the stage house with freight elevators and storage.
Norris has been in close contact with Moran, Navarro and his wife, Kelly Navarro, over the last year as renovations have been going on.
“It’s been amazing,” Norris said. “I was here in July, and all that was up was a frame. There was dirt everywhere. So, to kind of see all the different milestones in the construction process and then see it all come to life for the tournament – the grand lawn tent go up and obviously our logo on the side of the stadium – it’s been exciting.”
The Credit One Stadium hosts the one major tennis tournament each year, but Moran said he is always looking for other opportunities that would allow Charleston Tennis LLC to be a good WTA partner. He’s also hoping to branch out with even more events at the venue as the world continues to open up post-pandemic.
“We’re a multi-use facility, but tennis is going to be the hub, and if there’s opportunity to do more tennis, we definitely will,” he said.
Credit One Bank is committed to five years as a title sponsor of Charleston’s tennis tournament and saw the draw that the area brings following the 2020 tournament. Even without fans in the stadium, the chatter around the community and the coverage from social media and media partners was a win for Credit One.
This April, Credit One card members were invited to the tennis tournament to enjoy the weeklong event in the VIP room and lower-level seats on a first-come, first-served basis. Norris said the company also is in the process of creating an expedited service line to get cardholders into the stadium quicker, as well as exclusive discounts for tickets and concessions.
“There’s a very passionate fan base in Charleston, and we want to give them more of what they love,” he said. “That’s what our brand stands for… We want to bring great entertainment. We want to give these women tennis players a great facility to play at. So, I don’t see this as a one-and-done deal for us at all.”