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

decision.

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

Marne-La-Vallee.

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.