Posted on 05. Oct, 2010 in Victoria

The countdown has begun for the 2011 Australian Open and the world-class tennis tournament promises to go to a whole new level, Sports Minister James Merlino said today.

Joining Tournament Director Craig Tiley at Melbourne Park, Mr Merlino said January’s Australian Open promised to be the biggest and the best in its 106-year history.

“Victorians are passionate about their sport and the Australian Open is one of the major highlights of Melbourne’s world-class sporting calendar,” Mr Merlino said.

“And the Tournament continues to go from strength to strength – it’s the largest annual event in the southern hemisphere and is the biggest sporting event anywhere in the world in January.
“Record crowds of more than 653,000 people flocked to Melbourne Park for the 10-day tournament this year, generating more than $160 million for the Victorian economy.
Mr Merlino said a national trophy tour would bring the Australian Open to communities across the country and would help build momentum for the tournament.

“An iconic team of ambassadors including Mark Woodbridge and Alicia Molik will bring the Australian Open to thousands of people and take the game to a whole new level,” he said.

Mr Merlino said work was under way on a $363 million redevelopment of Melbourne Park, which would ensure the Australian Open remained in Melbourne for generations to come.

“We want the biggest stars and best events for our world-class sporting calendar and the Australian Open is a premier marquee event,” Mr Merlino said.

“Works are well underway and will provide a boost to Tennis Australia to set up the Australian Open, while making the precinct more sustainable and environmentally friendly with the installation of a 4.5ML water tank under the oval.”

A major facelift for the Margaret Court Arena – including installation of a new retractable roof and an additional 1500 seats – and a new Eastern Plaza that will house 21 new courts are the major highlights of the $363 million first stage of the redevelopment.

Tennis Australia chief executive Steve Wood said tennis in Australia was healthy and a redeveloped Melbourne Park would see it continue to grow.

“The redevelopment of Melbourne Park is the most significant happening for the Australian Open in a generation and the benefits for both the Australian Open and the sport of tennis will be phenomenal,’ Mr Wood said.

Mr Merlino congratulated outgoing Tennis Australia Chairman Geoff Pollard for his long-service and welcomed incoming Chairman Steve Healy to the role.

Tickets for the 2011 Australian Open go on sale from tomorrow through Ticketek. The Australian Open will be held at Melbourne Park from 17-30 January, 2011.

Australian Open website: http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/index.html

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