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Sydney Olympic Park Authority begins plans to put AUD$50m roof on Ken Rosewall Arena

The Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA) has begun plans for an AUD$50m project to put a roof on Ken Rosewall Arena and transform the tennis venue into a multi-purpose facility.

With crowds at the Sydney International dwindling and the city searching for an indoor facility to host top-flight sport and entertainment, SOPA has commissioned BVN Architects to design a roof for the 11,000-seat Olympic tennis facility.

Fairfax Media understands Tennis NSW, Netball NSW and Basketball NSW have all backed the plans to put a roof on the venue, which would require partial funding from SOPA. The Sydney Kings and NSW Swifts are being earmarked as permanent residents.

BVN Architects’ practice director, Ross Seymour, said:

We looked at not just a closing roof for tennis, but actually what it would take to get it as a multi-purpose stadium.

Once it has a roof you can take basketball and netball events. I believe there’s a lot of support from the potential users. Netball, basketball and obviously Tennis NSW are behind this. It would take some support from the state government in terms of funding.

The state government has just begun a feasibility study on a potential AUD$150m indoor facility to be built in the CBD. However, the redevelopment of Ken Rosewall Arena might prove a cheaper alternative – despite hope there could be room for both projects in the budget.

The AUD$50m budget estimation to transform Ken Rosewall Arena also includes the renovation of the changing room facilities, which would allow for team sports to be played. It also includes plans to incorporate corporate facilities on the second level platform, as well as additional options at the top of the grandstand.

Seymour commented:

That $50 million budget doesn’t just include the roof, it’s also to update some of the base building facilities.

Because it would be used for a team sport like basketball or netball, you would need to update the change rooms and the number of change rooms.

The idea is that it will also take events, so things like green rooms and capabilities to cater for performers. It’s a reasonably minor part of the $50 million budget but it’s an important component of ensuring it’s a quality multi-purpose arena.

The artist’s impression of the transformed Ken Rosewall Arena shows a “circular oculus” design, which would work on a rotating louvre system that would allow the control of light and ventilation while also providing protection from wet weather.

The Sydney International is in desperate need of a boost having experienced a 37 per cent drop in attendance figures since 2012.

The Australian Open is growing from strength to strength, while the Hopman Cup and Brisbane International are able to attract the biggest names with enclosed courts at both venues.

Total crowd figures have been hovering on either side of the 100,000 mark for the past few years in Brisbane and Perth, however just over 56,000 attended last year’s Sydney tournament, which included Australians Bernard Tomic, Nick Kyrgios and Sam Stosur.

The light rail connection to be built through the Sydney Olympic Park precinct – which runs from Parramatta through Rosehill to Strathfield – will also stop near Ken Rosewall Arena, while a new off ramp westbound on the M4 at Hill Road will also provide easier access to the venue.

Plans are still in the early stages but Seymour believes it could be up and running in time for the 2018 Sydney International.

Seymour added:

It’s a fairly efficient build compared to a new build.

It could be achieved relatively quickly. I think it would be built in less than 12 months I would expect, but the design phase would push it out past next year’s tournament but it could definitely be ready in time for the 2018 tournament. It would bring the facility back up to an international benchmark level.


Image: Renovations: The artist’s impression of the roof at Ken Rosewall Arena.