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Multi-million dollar boost keeps AO in Melbourne

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Tuesday 19 January 2010
By Mike Steere
Melbourne Park redevelopment announcement

The Australian Open will stay at Melbourne Park until at least 2036 following today's announcement of a $363 million boost to redevelop the precinct.

Victoria’s Premier John Brumby joined Tennis Australia and Melbourne Olympic Park Trust representatives on Tuesday in pledging the Government’s support for the redevelopment.

Major changes to Melbourne Park include a retractable roof and additional seating for Margaret Court Arena. These changes will add 1500 more seats to that court and make the Australian Open the first Grand Slam venue to have three all-weather courts.

The second major aspect of stage one of the redevelopment will see a new Eastern Plaza, which will include eight new indoor courts and 13 new outdoor courts.

Refurbishments would also be made to Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena, while additional parking and a footbridge linking Melbourne Park with the Rectangular Stadium would also be constructed.

Brumby said the changes were a key to making sure the event remained in Melbourne.

“We started this discussion a couple of years ago because every event of this type is becoming very competitive ... so we need to be up there with the best to keep it," he said.

“It was a foot-loose event past 2016. We could have kept it – but we also could have lost it,” Brumby said.

The Premier said the event was an important part of the state’s billion-dollar sporting and cultural event industry.

“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.”

Tennis Australia president Geoff Pollard said he was delighted with the changes and pleased that his organisation’s vision of tennis in the future had been included in the final plans.

“It’s a very historic day for tennis. It’s a culmination of a lot of work from a lot of people.”

Sports minister James Merlino said construction on stage one of the project would commence at the completion of this year’s tournament, with the aim of having major changes finished in five years.

A timeframe of 10-15 years had been set for the whole project to be completed.

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