French Open to stay at Roland Garros
The French Tennis Federation voted to keep the French Open at
its traditional Roland Garros venue and renovate the existing site,
rather than move it elsewhere.
Three other projects were bidding to host the clay-court Grand
Slam tournament by 2016.
The proposed new venues at Versailles, close to the hugely
popular Versailles palace, and in the suburbs at Gonesse and
Marne-La-Vallee were considerably more costly because they would
have required building from scratch.
The FFT said in a statement on Sunday that it had chosen the
option of renovating Roland Garros, located in western Paris for
more than 80 years, without immediately giving the reasons for the
Gonesse was eliminated in the first round of voting and
Versailles in the second. In the final round, Roland Garros
received 70.13 percent of the votes to eliminate
Roland Garros is the smallest of the four Grand Slam venues that
also includes the Australian Open at Melbourne, the U.S. Open at
Flushing Meadows in New York, and London’s traditional grass-court
event at Wimbledon.
Fans and players have regularly complained about the congestion
at Roland Garros because of its narrow walkways and the stiflingly
limited size of the complex.
Plans call for an extension of the current site from 21.3 acres
(8.5 hectares) to about 33.8 acres (13.5 hectares).
Among the renovation options are building a retractable roof
over the center court (Philippe Chatrier), and a new adjacent
stadium with a capacity of 8,000 to help ease congestion and
increase the number of courts available.
Renovation costs have been estimated at around ?250 million
($339 million) while the three other potential venues carry an
estimated price tag of between ?470 million and ?800 million.
Local residents, wildlife enthusiasts and municipal authorities
in Paris’ leafy western hub have all previously voiced their anger
at the plans to refurbish Roland Garros.