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Tennis - 31. January 2009.

Australian Open venue redevelopment

Melbourne Park, the venue for the Australian Open tennis tournament, is to be redeveloped, ensuring that the Grand Slam event remains there permanently.

Reuters reports that tournament organisers and local government officials announced that plans for the redevelopment include increasing seat capacity on the show courts, building a roof over the Margaret Court Arena, building an undercover courtyard for spectators, and improving player and media facilities.

Reuters also reports that Tennis Australia president Geoff Pollard has said he hopes the redevelopments would also end the annual argument about the timing of the event. Local organisers like to run it in January during school holidays to attract bigger crowds, but players would prefer the event to be moved to February or March, when the weather is cooler and giving them a longer off-season.

“I think most of the players now have realised that (the Open) has been a success in January,” Reuters reports Pollard as saying.

“Sure, it's early in the year. My personal view is the (tour tennis) year finishes too late.

“The U.S. Open (in August-September) is the end of the tennis year and it drags on for too long (afterwards), so it's not quite as early as some people might think.”

Prior to the new plan, the venue had a contract to host the Open until 2016. The tournament has been played at Melbourne Park since 1988. Prior to this, it was shared between Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and even New Zealand since it’s inception in 1905.

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