Get Court Up! Australian Open 2014 and expansion plans beyond

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It's that time of year again when the Grand Slam of the Asia-Pacific region rolls into town bringing with it hot weather, tourists and the world's best players to the blue Plexicushion hard courts of Melbourne Park.  The city is abuzz as it's engulfed by a carnival-like atmosphere whilst work places are full of bleary eyed employees who were up until the early hours of the day watching their heroes battle it out. 

The slogan for this year's tournament is 'Get Court Up' so as a first year Australian Open member and all-round sports enthusiast I decided to do just that.  My last visit to the Open was back in 2012 - before Stage 1 redevelopment works on Melbourne Park had even commenced so I was pretty keen to check out the new facilities and obviously catch the odd bit of tennis.

Interestingly prior to the commencement of this year's tournament  - as seems to be the tradition - Premier Denis Napthine was joined by world no.16 (and honorary Melburnian) Ana Ivanovic where he announced details of the $338M Stage 2 of the Melbourne Park redevelopment to begin following Australian Open 2015.

This $338 million upgrade to Melbourne Park is critical to continue attracting global sporting, music and other cultural events such as the Australian Open.

There is no doubt this work will keep Melbourne Park as the best grand slam venue in the world and further cement Melbourne and Victoria as the global sporting capital - Premier Denis Napthine.

Stage 2 will involve:

  • A new western entrance with a bridge over Batman Ave from Birrarung Marr
  • A major refurbishment to Rod Laver Arena including a new eastern entrance and improved DDA access
  • A new outdoor 5,000 seat showcourt
  • A new media and administration centre
  • New and improved 'Garden Square'
  • New semi covered central terrace with roof structure overhead

Urban Melbourne will revisit the redevelopment as designs for the various elements are finalised, but at first glance it looks like it will enhance the Australian Open experience for visitors and spectators.  This will be achieved via improved access to the precinct, visual and physical permeability to existing structures with emphasis on a far more active experience.  The major plus for mine is definitely the new central terrace with what has the potential to be a really interesting piece of architecture in the way of a new roof structure/super sized pergola, although it would have been handy during the first week of the tournament's heat wave.

For now please enjoy my photos of the action both on and off the court including progress shots of Margaret Court Arena. 

For more information on the Melbourne Park Redevelopment visit Major Projects Victoria

Match #1: Maria Sharapova (RUS) and Karin Knapp (ITA) await the toss of the coin.

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