SBD/May 30, 2013/Facilities

Roland Garros Expansion Faces Court Battle, But French Open Execs Vow To Press On

Renovation plans at Roland Garros could help boost ticket and TV numbers
The French Tennis Federation and Parisian government are “appealing a tribunal’s February decision to block” the $437M (all figures U.S.) “expansion of the Roland Garros complex into adjacent botanical gardens,” according to Rossingh & de Beaupuy of BLOOMBERG NEWS. But French Open Tournament Dir Gilbert Ysern said the project is “still alive and moving on.” The FFT “plans to file its building permits in July," and residents are “vowing to block construction through the courts.” FFT President Jean Gachassin last Saturday during a presentation of the plans said that the “upgrade ‘absolutely’ has to proceed, or the event risks falling behind the other three tennis majors.” Building a roof over its main Court Philippe Chatrier, just like in Australia and Wimbledon, will “allow Roland Garros to go ahead even when it rains and hold night sessions that will boost ticket sales and television coverage.” Roland Garros, which has hosted the French Open since '28, “now has 20 outside courts spread over 21 acres" and the expansion “will add 25 acres to the current site.” Plans announced in ‘09 to build a new $155.8M stadium near Roland Garros were “shelved because of a lack of consensus among local politicians” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 5/29).

FORGET PARIS? In N.Y., Christopher Clarey noted the expansion project was “part of the 2011 decision to keep the tournament in Paris instead of moving it to the suburbs.” Gachassin said that the project was "critical.” Gachassin: “To save the tournament, we have to be able to make this project a reality. By save it, I mean that without this project, we’re going to be in competition with other countries who want to do the same thing. I know we are being threatened by certain regions of the world like Asia, or a Qatar, who has lots of money and want to build big stadiums.” Clarey wrote it “seems far-fetched to imagine the French Open losing its Grand Slam status in the near future.” But it is “certainly possible to imagine it slipping to last place in the Grand Slam pecking order with the Australian Open rising, and the United States Open recently mending fences with the players" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/29).
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