VICTORIAN Premier John Brumby announced on Tuesday a major $363 million upgrade and redevelopment of Melbourne Park, the current home of the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis event, securing the event in Melbourne until 2036.
As part of the plan, Melbourne Park will have a third enclosed, all-weather stadium, with Margaret Court Arena receiving a new retractable roof and an additional 1500 seats, boosting its seating capacity from 6,000 to 7,500. Margaret Court Arena joins Hisense Arena (10,000 seats) and Rod Laver Arena (15,000 seats) in being the third enclosed tennis court.
In addition, the upgrade will include:
- A new Eastern Plaza, incorporating eight new indoor courts and 13 outdoor courts for elite training and general public use as well as change room facilities and a gymnasium;
- Refurbishments to Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena;
- Additional parking; and
- A footbridge linking Melbourne Park to the Rectangular Stadium.
"The Open is the biggest sporting event anywhere in the world for the month of January and is the largest annual event in the southern hemisphere – that's why the Victorian Government is making this significant investment to keep this prestigious tournament in Victoria" Mr Brumby said. "More than 600,000 people attended the 2009 Australian Open, with a third of those coming from interstate and overseas, generating more than $160 million for the Victorian economy."
Work is due to start in April this year, with Stage One of the project scheduled for completion in time for the 2015 Australian Open.
According to Melbourne and Olympics Parks Trust (2009), the Melbourne Park Masterplan and redevelopment was developed with a vision to "retain the Australian Open Grand Slam, improve player and patron facilities within the precinct, and integrate connectivity with the Melbourne CBD and Yarra Parklands with world class sporting and entertainment facilities."
The Masterplan was prepared in response to four primary issues:
- Inadequate core player and tournament facilities now approaching 20 years old;
- Increasing patronage of the site;
- The threat posed to the Australian Open’s Grand Slam Status by new international benchmark facilities and the desire to secure the event in Melbourne into the future; and
- The aspiration to establish Melbourne and Olympic Parks as Australia’s premier sports and entertainment precinct.
Premier of Victoria, Victorian Government media releases <http://premier.vic.gov.au/>;
Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust, Melbourne and Olympic Parks Masterplan, Stakeholder Consultation, 26-27 August 2009, <http://www.mopt.com.au/>.