If World No. 2 Roger Federer has his way, he'll be able to order sushi during matches in Indian Wells.
That's according to BNP Paribas Open Tournament owner Larry Ellison, who made a rare appearance Friday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden to help break ground on a new 8,000 seat stadium that will include two restaurants.
"At dinner last night with Roger, he was very concerned," Ellison said in a light moment during the ground breaking ceremony. "He wants to be able to order a California roll during the change overs. No more energy bars, instead sushi during the changeovers and a full meal between sets."
Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation, who was accompanied by Nikita Kahn, also announced plans to bring Nobu, an upscale Japanese restaurant, to the new expanded area of the Tennis Garden. The new stadium is expected to be completed in time for the 2014 BNP Paribas Open, which has been held in Indian Wells since 2000.
"The expansion of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is emphasizing the last word, garden," Ellison said. "We're going to expand the facility and landscape so it truly is a garden. We're going to have a glorious palm-lined entrance and landscaping all over the new expanded facility. We're building a wonderful new court two, 8,000 seat stadium that will feature two spectacular restaurants. You'll be able to order Sushi at Nobu while watching a great tennis match."
In attendance were Indian Wells Mayor Mary Roche and Indian Wells Tennis Garden CEO Raymond Moore. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, Federer, World No. 5 Rafael Nadal and World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka also joined in on the festivities, including hitting several serves on what will be the future new stadium.
Azarenka, who is the women's defending champion, said all the players love coming to Indian Wells.
"And now Nobu here, you can order a California roll, what else can be better. I don't know what you will do for the next years," Azarenka said, getting laughter from onlookers.
Federer, who is the men's defending champion, also praised Ellison for investing in the tennis tournament.
"We always are very happy when we see there is expansions happening around tennis tournaments, new set of courts, new courts coming, new flowers, restaurants. It's really exciting," Federer said. "... I think this is a huge step forward and in the right direction."
This year's BNP Paribas Open, which will run through March 17, is expected to draw 375,000 people, about double the 2000 attendance of 187,000, according to tennis garden officials.
“We are extremely excited about our expansion and thrilled that the City of Indian Wells had approved the plans," Moore said previously. “Larry Ellison’s vision for this tournament has been nothing short of incredible, and the innovations and enhancements he has put forth have benefited fans and players alike."
The BNP Paribas Open is the largest combined two-week event for the Association of Tennis Professionals and Women's Tennis Association.