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Wimbledon prize pot up 40%


 

Originally published on: 23/04/13 00:00

The sun shone brightly in SW19 and at tennishead towers we often joke to admiring friends scattered around the globe, the streets are paved with gold.

And Gold it will be indeed. One of the announcements made by Phillip Brook, Chairman of the All England Club and Richard Lewis, Chief Executive, was the Ladies and Men’s Singles Champions will this year each take home a cool £1.6 million, not bad for a fortnight’s work. Well, in truth it’s actually for a lifetime of dedication and training, so let’s not exaggerate, but it is a 39 per cent increase (that’s an additional £450, 000) on last year, so there is all to play for. Total prize money increases to £22.6 million (an increase of £6.5 million, or 40 per cent on 2012) all of which is funded by the activities of the Championships.

And to protect the financial wellbeing of the Championships, the All England Club also set out their vision which aims to ensure that the Championships remain the premiere tennis event in the world, by creating additional space, improving the experience and maintaining the idea of “tennis in an English Country Garden.” The Vision has just started its consultation process, it was unveiled to club members last night, to the media today and along the way local residents and staff will all be consulted about the plans.

Those plans, encapsulated in a 20-page document are viewable on the Wimbledon website, but things that caught our eye include a fixed and retractable roof to be added to No. 1 Court, a new Southern entrance, lots of landscaped gardens and the re-sighting of Court 19 and Court 12. The indoor courts on the other site of Somerset Road will be demolished and re-located further up the site, while the clay courts will be moved to the existing indoor site and a basement car park added underneath.

The plans are an attempt to continue the evolution of the All England Club that in the last 20 years has seen (not in chronological order) the roof on Centre Court, new No. 2 and 3 courts, the addition of the Millennium Building and a new Broadcast Centre and you can’t help but observe there may be a bit of one-upmanship on the other Grand Slams, who are cranking into action too. The French are looking at building a roof on Court Philippe Chatrier, the Aussies opened a new National Training centre this year and are looking to put a roof on Margaret Court Arena and the Americans, well, they still hanker after a roof on Louis Armstrong and Grandstand, after all who wants to be in New York on a third Monday!

So, as always, it was with great professionalism that the plans were uncovered today and whatever you make of the prize money increase, you can’t help but admire a business that can be as bullish as this in the current economic climate.

If the master plan gets approval we also savour the idea of drinking coffee on No. 1 Court under a roof while it rains outside, but that won’t be until at least 2019, and since Lavazza, the official coffee of the Championship, have re-signed their deal until 2016, we won’t be holding our breath, in case coffee is not de rigueur when the roof arrives in 6 years time.

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