The head of the Australian Open said improved infrastructure and entertainment were key to the tennis Grand Slam event most likely attaining record attendance figures in 2017.
Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley said other sporting events could learn from the Open’s enhancements, which better link Melbourne Park with the host city and have created more activities for families.
The Australian Open attracted more than 500,000 spectators during the first week for the first time and after high-profile finals between the Williams sisters and Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Tiley said “it will be the biggest crowd for a finals weekend, for sure”. 2017 is set to overtake the previous record of 720,363 that attended last year.
As well as the excitement on court, Tiley pointed to a new footbridge entrance that has extended the tournament’s reach from Melbourne Park to the city fringe. The revamped Melbourne Park includes a new space for concerts, a children’s zone, and new entertainment precincts.
The Open also boasts corporate suites with river views, and uses the Collingwood football club’s Glasshouse as a function space.
Tiley told the Herald Sun newspaper that Tennis Australia had created a blueprint that could be used by other major sports.
“My view is that we want this to be a platform,’’ he said.
“Turn around, face the city. Bring the fans down from the city, make it easier to get in, make a bigger area, and have some fun.
“We’ll keep making the site bigger … everything that we do we’re just extending it even further,’’ he said.
“We like to set the standard. We also take risks — we’re very innovative in how we think.
“We’ll give it a go the Aussie way, and if we fail we’ll say sorry and give it a go again.”