With the news that the All England Club is four months into developing a new ‘masterplan’ for the expansion of the Church Road grounds, by the name of ‘Wimbledon 2020’, what are the other three tennis majors doing to keep ahead of the curve?
The Melbourne Park Masterplan
An AUD$363 million revedelopment project, Stage One of the Melbourne Park Masterplan was announced in January 2010, and is designed to secure the future of the Australian Open in Melbourne, and shake off threats not only from other Australian cities, but also the likes of Dubai and other power-hungry tennis-loving nations in Asia. Expected to be finished by 2015, Stage One will see Margaret Court Arena upgraded to include a retractable roof and a bumped up capacity of 7,500.
The new Eastern Plaza will also include eight new indoor tennis courts and 13 new outdoor courts, warm up and warm down facilites for athletes, a new eastern entry to Hisense Arena that will also serve as a public mill-about-and-drink-beer area, an upgraded western entry to Melbourne Park’s second show court, increased car-parking capacity, and, finally, a new landscaped entrance to Melbourne Park from Olympic Boulevard.
Also including plans to open up opportunities for Melbourne Park to host netball, basketball, concerts and other events, the project is the largest government-funded sports facility project ever seen in the state of Victoria, bigger than the 1956 Olympics and 2006 Commonwealth Games. Work began in May 2010, and is expected to be completed in time for the 2015 Australian Open.
The French Open Expansion plan
Much as in Melbourne, with rumours circulating that the French Open was destined to be moved from its historic home at Porte d’Auteil, the clay-court slam having vastly outgrown its limited floor space, the French Tennis Federation announced a 257 million Euros (£241m) expansion plan in May 2011.
Including the building of two new show courts, one 5,000 seats, the other 2,000 seats, a new national training centre, a new media centre, and a roof over the Court Philippe Chatrier, the tennis complex is set to grow by 60% in size. The project, funded by a combination of the French Tennis Federation, the city of Paris, and the central government, is due to be completed in stages, with everything up and running by the 2016 French Open. A retractable roof is also planned for the Court Suzanne Lenglen at a later date.
Re-modelling the US Open
Announced in 2010, the USTA is breaking new ground with a $300 million renovation, which is set to include building three new stadium courts, but, somewhat controversially, without any provision for a roof on either Arthur Ashe, the US Open’s centrepiece, or on any of the new courts. “We will continue over the next 10 years to research a roof over Arthur Ashe,” USTA President Lucy Garvin told SportsBusiness Journal. “It remains technologically and financially challenging, but we are going to continue to research the technology that may allow for a roof.”
The redevelopment plans include:
Tearing down the current 10,220-seater Louis Armstrong Stadium and its neighbour, the 6,100-seater Grandstand Court. A new 10,000-15,000 Louis Armstrong Stadium will be built in its place. Two new 3,000-seat mini stadiums, the locations of which have not yet been determined, but which will be designed to ‘offer a more intimate view of the matches.’ Construction to widen Arthur Ashe Stadium’s upper levels to add more public facilities. It is not known when the new courts will be completed.