The day session for the middle Saturday of the Australian Open in 2011 had a record crowd of a total of over 77,000 people at the day and night sessions.
Given that day session tickets for the middle Saturday of this year’s Australian Open were completely sold out by the day before, including Ground Passes, this year’s crowd might be even bigger.
The Australian Open has now been held at Melbourne Park (formerly Flinders Park) for twenty five years.
Stage 1 redevelopment works worth $363 million are currently underway and expected to be completed in 2015, since it moved from being held at Kooyong.
Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena currently have retractable roofs. The redevelopment includes adding a roof to Margaret Court Arena (MCA), plus an additional 1,500 seats.
Having two courts with roofs is already a huge bonus for playing continuing when it rains, or when hot conditions meet the criteria for closing the roofs, making it more comfortable for both the players and spectators. Having a third court with a roof means more matches will be able to continue.
The plans also include a new indoor concourse area offering shade on hot days and dryness when it’s raining, plus new indoor tennis courts which include change rooms, gym and lounge areas.
The redevelopment program means that the Australian Open will stay at Melbourne Park until at least 2036.
Read more about the Melbourne Park masterplan.
A few Melbourne Park memories
While I was writing this I started thinking about the changes I’ve seen to Melbourne Park since I started going to the Australian Open in 1989.
- Originally known as Flinders Park, the name was changed to Melbourne Park in 1996
- It used to be the “Ford Australian Open”, in 2012 Kia is the major sponsor for the 11th consecutive year
- A big change happened in 2008 when the tennis courts changed from green to blue
- Hisense Arena, now the second largest court (originally named Vodafone Arena), was opened in 2000. In the first few years you could access seats in this arena with a ground pass (often you had to queue for a while to get in, especially if someone popular was playing). Later it changed to being all allocated seats, and then a Hisense Arena night session was added a few years ago (2009 I think)
- The After 5 Ground Pass and a match scheduled to start not before 7pm on Margaret Court Arena was added a few years ago, encouraging people to come at the end of the day and enjoy the atmosphere.
- The Grand Slam Oval entertainment area was introduced in 2010, allowing for a larger stage and more area for bars.
Here’s a few flash backs from the photo archives.
What other significant changes to Melbourne Park do you remember over the years?
Until next time
Grand Slam Gal