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Tennis NSW is lobbying for 10 outdoor courts to be built next to the proposed $150 million indoor stadium near the CBD that could allow Sydney to challenge for the Australian Open from 2037.
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The NSW government will this month start a feasibility study on where the proposed 10,000-seat venue should be built, with Tennis NSW working closely with Basketball NSW and Netball NSW over the plans for the facility.
While Moore Park and Wentworth Park are the logical locations for the multi-purpose facility, Tennis NSW boss Alistair MacDonald believes the government should also consider additional courts that could enhance Sydney's chances of hosting the opening grand slam of the season when the licence at Melbourne Park expires in 20 years.
"Not only do we want to get the best players here with the current tournaments we've got, but we also want to build for the future, which means securing new events in Sydney," MacDonald told Fairfax Media.
"We wouldn't want to limit ourselves for one day in 20 or 30 years time, who is to say we can't have the biggest event in Australia here. We have a lack of courts in Sydney, so to have additional courts around the venue is very important if we want to have a bona fide major event here."
Transformation of the Moore Park precinct into a sporting hub to rival Melbourne's facilities has begun, with Allianz Stadium set to be knocked down for a new 55,000-seat stadium on existing SCG Trust land.
The 10,000-seat indoor facility, which would need a retractable roof for it to be used at a grand slam, would likely need to be built on Centennial and Moore Park Trust land, with any additional courts to occupy more of its land.
There is a genuine appetite for top-class tennis in Sydney, with Roger Federer's Fast 4 match against Lleyton Hewitt last year selling out inside 48 hours, while another sell-out crowd is expected when Rafael Nadal rolls into town for the Fast 4 exhibition tournament at Allphones Arena on Monday night.
While Sydney hosting the Australian Open remains a pipe dream, MacDonald believes there needs to be a long term vision in mind that could provide Sydney with the chance to secure top-flight tennis tournaments and events in the future.
"I don't think in the short term you'd build a facility that would cater for an event of that size (Australian Open), but you'd probably like to set it up that you could expand it one day if the opportunity arose," MacDonald said. "You'd need two show courts, which would enable us to have two broadcast standard courts, maybe with a canopy as well. You'd need between six to 10 practice courts as well as the stadium with 10,000 seats. Sydney is one of the best cities in the world and players want to come here. The players would love the proximity from the airport to their hotels and to the tennis and also experiencing the city.
"There's definitely a gap in the market in Sydney .... the three sports (tennis, basketball and netball) are looking for a venue that can enable us to attract the biggest events our sports can bring here, as well as the regular season content (NSW Swifts and Sydney Kings)."
There is now a push for a roof over Ken Rosewall arena at Sydney Olympic Park, but Sydney has now fallen behind Brisbane and Melbourne in regards to tennis facilities for the players and fans.
The city is unable to provide a guarantee of matches during wet conditions, with some players opting to play in Brisbane, which has multiple undercover courts.
"When you bring that sort of talent here, you need to ensure that the game goes on," MacDonald said. "And at the moment we don't have that. This venue needs to be brought up to speed. The needs of the players have changed. They need to be guaranteed matches and we can't do that here without a roof. Even in addition to the roof, we need to upgrade our facilities and step up to the plate to be in line with Brisbane and Melbourne. We've got players that are training in Brisbane because of the facilities."