Sydney needs tennis upgrade to host World Teams Cup

Sydney’s tennis facilities are in urgent need of an upgrade according to the ATP, which sees as a potential host nation of its revamped World Teams Cup in from 2020.

Singapore, China and the United States are all believed to be vying for the right to stage the event when it returns to the men’s calendar for the first time since 2012, but looms as the most logical location for the season-opening tournament that is set to become the key lead-up to the n Open.

The proposed World Teams Cup is envisaged to be the biggest tennis event on the globe outside of the four grand slams, with 24 countries to be represented by most of the world’s top 100 players in a round-robin format culminating in a three-day finals series. A decision on the host nation isn’t expected until at least March.

Securing the World Teams Cup could hinge on the NSW Government significantly improving Sydney’s tennis facilities, which have laid stagnant at Olympic Park since the 2000 Games. Should be awarded the tournament, the ATP believes Sydney should host the final given its standing on the global stage.

Ken Rosewell Arena, which has a capacity of about 10,000 and is hosting the Sydney International this week, doesn’t have a roof, or the required corporate and player facilities to host a premier ATP event.

Brisbane and Perth are ATP standard while a redeveloped arena in Adelaide was announced earlier this week, which places Sydney beneath that trio and Melbourne in terms of tennis infrastructure.

The NSW Government conducted a feasibility study last year into the need for a multi-use indoor arena in the city, and says it will consider constructing one “in due course” as part of its broader stadia strategy.

In November the Gladys Berejiklian government announced $2 billion worth of funding to rebuild Allianz and ANZ Stadiums, while construction on a new stadium at Parramatta is already underway.

A multi-purpose indoor arena that could seat up to 12,000 people and be used for concerts alongside tennis, netball, basketball and a range of other indoor sports would cost an estimated $400 million, although that figure could change substantially.

No public timeframe has been set on any potential new indoor arena, but the ATP is hopeful their revamped World Teams Cup will be ready to resume its place on the tennis schedule in two years.

That leaves at risk of missing out on the tournament with the ATP keen to use Sydney to showcase the event.

“It would be very important for Sydney to have a facility that is up to the highest standard of our sport and especially up to the highest standards of other locations in ,” the ATP’s chief player officer Ross Hutchins told Fairfax Media.

“If we do send this event to and we are able to secure an agreement, we’d want to be in Sydney but the board and management and certainly the ATP require the levels to be very very high, and higher than what they are currently.”

Tennis NSW has held positive discussions with sports minister Stuart Ayres over the past year about the need to improve the city’s facilities, although that dialogue is yet to progress into a planning phase.

A second option is to upgrade the current tennis facility at Olympic Park at far less cost, before ultimately moving into the proposed indoor arena. That possibility was floated two years ago at the cost of $50m, but is yet to eventuate.

Alison Lee, the ATP’s executive vice president international group, said Sydney’s tennis facilities were well below standard.

“Sydney’s definitely part of the proposal but as we know Sydney’s existing venue at Homebush isn’t anywhere near up to par with the other venues around ,” Lee said.

“Tennis in Sydney has been neglected for a long time. We moved out here with the tournament for the Olympics and I don’t think anything’s been done much to the venue out here since then.

“Something needs to be done certainly in terms of venue as well as investment.”

A recent Tennis study concluded hosting the World Teams Cup would inject up to $40m per year into the economy, with more than half of that benefiting Sydney alone.

“We’ve been making the case very strongly with minister Ayres and his government colleagues that for Sydney to remain a core component of the summer of tennis, really now the time has come for us to invest in a venue,” Tennis NSW chief Lawrence Robertson said.

“It’s not just about tennis. Tennis brings global icons and our week of tennis reaches over 200 territories worldwide and a global audience reach of over a billion viewers.

“We believe we bring something different to the table than say NRL or the AFL or to some extent even cricket because tennis is a genuinely global sport. Sydney is seen the world over as the global city of .”

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