The Australian Open will inject more than A$240M ($216M) into Melbourne's local economy "as hundreds of thousands flock to Melbourne Park and millions more watch on television," according to Rolfe & Langmaid of the HERALD SUN. More than 600,000 fans "are expected to attend, with the competition beamed live to more than 200 countries," when the tournament opens on Monday. Victoria Premier Denis Napthine said, "Through its international broadcasts the Australian Open also provides tremendous global exposure." With ticket pre-sales up 8% on last year, this year's crowd "could set a new record." Napthine said, "We had 684,000 people through the gates last year and with good weather you would expect more than that this year, but that is not our target" (HERALD SUN, 1/13).
Events and Attractions
Construction work at the Red Bull Ring, which will host the Austrian F1 Grand Prix, "has been in full swing," according to Elisabeth Holzer of the KURIER. The work at the racetrack "is being conducted 24/7 in three shifts." Back when the racetrack was called Ö-Ring and A1-Ring, the circuit "had 19,000 permanent seats." The Red Bull Ring "has 6,000 more." And because Red Bull Owner Dietrich Mateschitz "is doing things in a big way, the racetrack is adding additional temporary stands." Organizers "are expecting 225,000 spectators over the GP weekend and 500 million viewers on TV." In addition to the construction at the track, "the surrounding communities upgrade as well." A new hotel "will be opened at the end of May and another one will be renovated." Spielberg Mayor Manfred Lenger said, "The engine for this region has always been the F1 racetrack. However, reducing it only to F1 is not enough." The circuit "is being upgraded for year-round operation." Lenger added, "Truck Grand Prix, DTM (German Touring Car Championship), music festivals and biathlon. Actually every day something is happening here. It would be nice if appropriate companies would settle here" (KURIER, 1/12).
Belgian motorcyclist Eric Palante and two other spectators "were killed during Friday's sixth leg of the Dakar Rally," according to the AP. Organizers said that they "went out looking for the 50-year-old Palante after he failed to finish the fifth stage, which most riders completed on Thursday, and found his body along the route." The cause of death "was being investigated." Officials "offered few details." Police said that "two people following the race died on Thursday when their vehicle overturned in rough terrain in northern Argentina." The Dakar, raced over rugged terrain in difficult-to-control areas, "often produces fatalities" (AP, 1/11).
Tony Hawk "will take entertainment to new heights" at this year's Australian F1 Grand Prix "with a giant vertical ramp to be built at Albert Part to showcase death-defying stunts," according to Peter Rolfe of NEWS LIMITED. Hawk "will bring a troupe of riders from around the world as well as Australia's best to Melbourne to take part in trick sessions high above the F1 track." The "'Tony Hawk and Friends Vert Sessions' will be free to all GP ticketholders with performances to be staged across all four days of the event" (NEWS LIMITED, 1/10).