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Melbourne Park to be improved

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 13:01

Victorian Premier John Brumby announced the details of the Australian dollars 363 million facelift on Tuesday morning as tournament organisers seek to make up time lost to persistent rain on the opening day.

Twenty-six matches were postponed on Monday as the weather wreaked havoc on the outside courts, with only play on Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena able to be completed.

The future of Melbourne as the home of the Australian Open has come under threat in recent years, with China in particular lobbying to host the grand slam of Asia/Pacific after the current contract expires in six years.

Under the Victorian Government’s plans, a roof would be installed over Margaret Court Arena and an additional 1,500 seats added. Stage one plans also include a new eastern plaza, which will feature eight new indoor courts and 13 new outdoor courts.

Brumby said the redevelopment would ensure Melbourne remained the sporting capital of the country and make the Australian Open the only grand slam tournament with three undercover courts.

“This will allow Melbourne to run the most weatherproof grand slam event in the world,” he said.

“This major redevelopment is the single biggest investment in the precinct since the Australian Open moved to Melbourne Park from Kooyong more than two decades ago, and it will ensure Melbourne continues to lead the way as the world’s best sports city.

“The world’s best players love coming to Melbourne and our significant investment in Melbourne Park will guarantee the Australian Open remains in Victoria until at least 2036.”

Sports minister James Merlino said construction on the first stage of the project would begin at the end of this year’s tournament and take about five years to complete.

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