The brand new retractable roof on the Margaret Court Arena will enable tennis matches to go ahead even during extreme weather events. In last year’s Australian Open a heatwave forced several matches to be postponed.
The 2014 Australian Open saw extreme temperatures in Melbourne affecting both the tennis event itself as well as transport links in Melbourne more broadly. Tennis fans were obliged to go on foot amid sweltering temperatures around 40C, after city tram rails had buckled on the line connecting to the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.
According to Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley the high-profile tournament could still be completed, even in the event of weather preventing play for extended periods of time. “There’s no question that now having a third stadium with a retractable roof, that if we had to in the unlikely event, we’d be able to complete the tournament,” said Tiley.
Tiley added that it would only take five minutes to open and close the roof, which he said made it the fastest such roof installation globally. “To be able to weatherproof this court so quickly enables us to have continuous play,” said Tiley. “Often you see in other stadiums, you’ve got to stop play before you can close the roof. That’s not the case here.”
Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the revamp would see the 6,000 capacity open air stadium transformed into a 7,300 state-of-the-art facility. “It means that this Melbourne Park precinct is the only grand slam venue in the world with three courts like this,” he added.
The 2015 Australian Open tennis tournament will kick off in Melbourne on 11 January, with some 650,000 to 700,000 people expected to attend.