Melbourne Park set for major facelift

Melbourne, Nov 11 (IANS) The centerpiece of the Australian Open tennis championship, Rod Laver Arena, is getting a $238 million facelift as part of a massive new refurbishment of the Melbourne Park precinct announced by the Victoria province government on Wednesday.

The Australian Open’s centre court, which can seat up to 14,820 fans, will undergo a major transformation inside and out, with the redevelopments mainly centred on enhancing spectator enjoyment, reports Xinhua.

The refurbishment will feature a new social area to the east of the stadium, dubbed the “pod”, a footbridge better linking the stadium to the Central Business District (CBD) and new retractable seating to improve turnaround time in between events.

As regards to the Australian Open, which is leased by Tennis Australia for only two weeks each January while the tournament is played, the players’ locker room will be revamped, while a new media and administration centre is also in the works.

For the majority of the remaining 50 weeks of year, Rod Laver Arena is used as Australia’s biggest purpose-built concert arena, with ticket sales in the first three quarters of 2015 numbering 390,000.

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Wednesday the contract, worth almost $500 million, would be filled by construction company Lendlease — the group which had been booked to build Melbourne’s East West Link roadway, before the Andrews government reneged on the deal.

The development will be rolled out in two stages, with work to begin after next year’s Australian Open. A completion date of 2019 has been set.

Last year’s Australian Open was the most successful, in terms of spectators, in the event’s 110-year history, with the 2015 attendance figure of 703,899 surpassing the previous record mark of 686,006, set in 2012.

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