Margaret Court Arena (15.10.2014)

Written on the 15 October 2014

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- My question is to the Minister for Sport and Recreation, Mr Drum.

Can the minister inform the house of the upgrades recently completed at Melbourne Park's Margaret Court Arena?



Hon. D. K. DRUM (Minister for Sport and Recreation) -- I thank Ms Crozier for her question.

Last week we had the opportunity in a two-pronged event to launch the 2015 Australian Open and announce that tickets had gone on sale and also to announce the completion of Margaret Court Arena, which effectively becomes the third show court at Melbourne Park to have a retractable roof. Margaret Court Arena has the fastest retractable roof in Australia, and possibly the world, which will be amazingly helpful for those times during the Australian Open when the weather changes and we are forced to either open or close the roof.

It was great to be able to be there with Margaret Court, who for those who know their tennis is tennis royalty here in Australia. I did some research on Margaret Court and found that she won 62 grand slam titles, which is unthinkable in today's day and age. However, another source claimed that Margaret Court won 64 titles, so I stand before you a bit uncertain, but her record is along the lines of 24 grand slam singles titles, 19 in doubles and either 19 or 21 in mixed doubles.

It is amazing that now that Margaret Court Arena is a show court we have increased the capacity of the arena from 6000 to 7500. We have put a low-profile roof across it as part of stage 1 of the development. This court was originally built in 1988, it was named in Margaret Court's honour in 2003 and it has now has been refurbished as part of stage 1 of the refurbishment at Melbourne and Olympic Parks, which is a $300 million-plus investment.

It was therefore also amazing that we were able to acknowledge that there will be a further $350 million investment in stage 2 of Melbourne Park as stage 1 comes to a conclusion. Stage 1 has had the National Tennis Centre built on to the eastern end of Melbourne Park. It also has 8 indoor courts and 13 outdoor courts, including the clay courts that have again given our younger players the opportunity to gain experience in playing on clay. The Edwin Flack Bridge has been completed, providing access from the MCG to AAMI Park through the middle of Melbourne and Olympic Parks. There are a whole range of other enhancements to the entrances to Hisense Arena. That has been an amazing project.

Stage 1 of this project has been completed on time and on budget, and it is with excitement that we look forward to taking our investment from $330-odd million to $700 million when we move into stage 2 of this work.

That work will start after the 2015 Australian Open, and it is something that will be strongly anticipated.

There will be a new administration block, which will also house the media; further refurbishments to Rod Laver Arena, which will maintain it at a high standard; and also the Batman Avenue Bridge, which will link Birrarung Marr to Melbourne and Olympic Parks. All these improvements will continue to have this tournament at the top of the world.

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