Thursday, 25 November 2010

French Open boost

Controversial plans to increase the size of Roland Garros, the historic home of the French Open, received a major boost on Wednesday.

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) has been looking at ways to either expand the existing venue in the chic 16th arrondisement of Paris or relocate the French Open to a new site in the capital's suburbs.

"It would be heart-breaking, but we have to consider it," declared Gilbert Ysern, FFT director general, back in March.

The problem facing the French tennis authorities comes down to space - Roland Garros at 8.5 hectares is less than half the size of Wimbledon, which boasts 18.5 hectares of prime south-west London grass.

Possible new homes that were said to be under consideration in the Parisian 'banlieues' were Versailles, Marne-la-Vallee, Evry and Gonesse.

But the plan to renovate the existing premises looks to be the favoured option after a special commission made up of elected officials, architects and historians, gave it the thumbs-up by 13 votes for, eight against, with two absentions.
The project proposed jointly by the FFT and Mayor of Paris would involve expanding Roland Garros to create a new 5,000 seater court.

Anne Hidalgo, assistant to Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe, spoke of "the enthusiastic support from the Paris Mayor's office for this major project for Paris".
Those against the idea have expressed disquiet at the loss of precious conservation areas surrounding the venue.

A final decision on the French Open's future must be made at the latest by February, 2011.
The French Open was won by the legendary Rene Lacoste the first time it was held in 1925, with Rafael Nadal celebrating his fifth title in June.

Courtesy: AFP

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