Wimbledon Secures £175M Loan For Retractable Roof, Other Improvements
The All England Lawn Tennis Club took out a £175M ($225.1M) loan facility to "finance the construction of a retractable roof" over Wimbledon's No. 1 court and "other improvements," according to Martyn Ziegler of the LONDON TIMES. The roof will cost £71M ($91.3M) and "should be completed in two years." The extra spending, which was revealed in the AELTC's accounts at Companies House, "shows the extent of the work planned at Wimbledon." The AELTC is "yet to draw down the loan, but there should be no difficulty in repaying it." Last year, the company made £33.2M in profit despite a £12.6M loss due to contracts in foreign currencies and an annual payment of £34M to the Lawn Tennis Association. Wimbledon makes £125M ($160.8M) over five years from debenture seat sales, "which will be used to pay off the loan, with more income from TV rights, general ticket sales and sponsorship" (LONDON TIMES, 8/15). RTÉ reported other improvements "include new clay and covered hard courts, which will not be used for the championships." Capacity on the No. 1 court is "expected to rise from around 11,500 to 12,400" under the proposals and will "create a more comfortable environment for spectators," although the report said that there are "no plans to increase ticket prices." The new roof will see Wimbledon become the second of the sport's four grand slams to have the capability for indoor tennis on two courts, "guaranteeing play in bad weather" (RTÉ, 8/15).