SBD/Issue 172/Facilities & Venues

French Open Plans New Covered Court In Attempt To Update Event

Organizers Unveil Plans For New Stadium With
Retractable Roof In Attempt To Attract Sponsors
French Open organizers yesterday unveiled plans for a "new stadium with a retractable roof as the tournament competes" with other Grand Slam tennis events "to attract sponsors and fans," according to Danielle Rossingh of BLOOMBERG NEWS. French Open Tournament Dir Gilbert Ysern said that the venue, near Roland Garros, will cost about $166M (all figures U.S.) and "may be ready in five years." Ysern said that the French Tennis Federation will pay about $111M toward the cost of the new venue, with Paris contributing another $28M and the French government funding the remainder. Ysern said that construction on the stadium, "which will be used for tennis events only, may start in 2011, subject to environmental regulations and approval from its neighbors." Ysern said that the French Open "plans to hold night sessions at the new venue." Also, tournament officials are "looking into building a roof over the main Court Philippe Chatrier." But Ysern indicated that it "will be trickier ... since building rules won't allow construction to exceed the current height of the seats," and thus the new roof "would have to be temporary" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 5/26). While the tournament does have plans for some night matches, Ysern said that it "will not go the way" of the Australian and U.S. Opens with "graveyard-shift matches." Ysern said that the French Open has "fallen behind the other three Grand Slams in terms of infrastructure, both in terms of space and amenities." ESPN.com's Bonnie Ford noted an "expanded facility and schedule would surely be planned with an eye on increasing revenues" (ESPN.com, 5/26). In London, Neil Harman notes the "promise of extended days" with the new court "was not a popular move." But Ysern insisted that nothing "would ever be done to undermine the event's prestige and the considerations of the players would be paramount" (LONDON TIMES, 5/27).

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