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The Zhuhai Hengqin International Tennis Centre on the southern coast of China, designed by global architects Populous, is hosting its first international tennis tournament – the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Elite Trophy Zhuhai this week (3-8 November).

Populous are the designers behind Wimbledon Centre Court and Margaret Court Arena, as well as this new project. The first stage of the high-profile Tennis Centre was completed in September, just 12 months after construction began on the site, on Hengqin Island, which is a part of the city of Zhuhai.

The facility includes a Centre Court with 5,000 seats, five other match courts and 12 training courts. The site had to be drained and reclaimed before construction began, which then included 50 metre deep reinforced piles, strengthened foundations and giant concrete slabs.

Andrew James, Populous Senior Principal and Director of Asian projects, commented:

The speed and quality of construction has been very impressive.

The WTA Elite Trophy is classified as an outdoor tournament, which meant the atmosphere for players (temperature and humidity) had to be the same on the covered courts as the uncovered courts.

Populous project manager, Associate Principal Tiric Chang said the solution for Centre Court was to design an inner and outer roof that offered weather protection but allowed filtered sunlight and natural air flow into the arena, as he explained:

We arrived at an elegant, simple, cost effective solution – a cantilevered outer roof over the seating and a circular inner roof over the court, offering protection from the sun, enabling play to continue in wet weather, and allowing gaps for natural ventilation.

 Our vision for the arena was to establish a venue that achieves the best fan, player, and media experience with match and training facilities to accommodate and attract high profile international players.

Zhuhai is widely regarded as the most liveable city in China and a popular tourist destination. The Deputy Director of the Zhuhai Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau, Cheng Yurong, said the city is committed to continue the process of internationalisation. He added:

This Tennis Centre can help elevate us onto the wider world stage, significantly helping to improve our international image and influence.

The complex has been designed to be used as a park and community centre after the competition, open to the public on non-event days in a fully accessible landscaped environment.

Populous was also engaged to help activate the site to make it friendly and appealing to families, as well as designing an iconic entranceway of harvested and live bamboo to reflect the surrounding city landscape.

Photo Credits: Huafa Sports Operation and Management Co Ltd

Photo Credits: Huafa Sports Operation and Management Co Ltd


Photo Credit: Huafa Sports Operation and Management Co Ltd

Photo Credit: Huafa Sports Operation and Management Co Ltd

Greenbrier’s Center Court at Creekside grand opening to feature Agassi-Sampras match

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The Greenbrier Resort’s Center Court at Creekside, America’s newest professional outdoor tennis stadium, will be officially unveiled June 20, 2015. Headlining the Grand Opening celebrations is a historic face-off match between longtime pro-tennis rivals Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.

Sampras currently serves as The Greenbrier’s resident Tennis Pro Emeritus, and is among a number of tennis legends, including John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Tommy Haas and Ivan Lendl, who have played at the resort since the inaugural Greenbrier Champions Tennis Classic in 2012. With such greats as guests, “It was only right that the Greenbrier should have the premier resort tennis stadium in the US to call its own,” said Jim Justice, Owner and Chairman of The Greenbrier.

The match between these Tennis Hall-of-Famers will take place in the state-of-the-art, 2,500-seat stadium designed by Detroit-based ROSSETTI architects.

ROSSETTI’s unique U-shaped bowl configuration takes advantage of a picturesque backdrop of Howard’s Creek, the Allegheny Mountains and the historic Old White TPC Championship golf course. The design also allows for a multi-functional plaza between the Creek and the court, which can accommodate courtside hospitality tents and additional grandstand seating. Featuring 400 corporate loge seats, professional-grade lighting and broadcast-ready media space, Center Court at Creekside elevates The Greenbrier’s top-of-the-line tennis programme to a new level.

President and CEO of ROSSETTI, Matt Rossetti, said:

This was a dream project for us. The intimacy and integration with the landscape is something we’ve discussed for the US Open but we don’t have the natural features to do it authentically. There’s so much character, it’s the ultimate amphitheater. I’m sure our other tennis clients will be envious.


Images courtesy: ROSSETTI

For tickets and more information on the Grand Opening please visit:

ROSSETTI will be showcasing their latest sports venue projects at our ‘live’ event, Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific 2015, which is being held at the Singapore Sports Hub this September, 28-30.

To guarantee your place at this must-attend event – which will feature more than 40 top industry speakers and 50+ industry-leading exhibitors and sponsors – visit the website at:

USTA selects SPS Technology for new grandstand

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SPS North America, in partnership with the Walters Group, reports a new order for SPS Terraces from HUNT Construction Group in a supply‐install contract for the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY.

This is SPS NA’s second stadia project for USTA National Tennis Center with the 8,000-seat venue to be constructed near the existing Court 17 facility built with SPS in 2012.

Designed by Rossetti and engineered by WSP, the Grandstand 3 stadium is scheduled for completion in July 2016 – a very ambitious build program with SPS Terraces to be erected by the end of 2015.

Image courtesy: Rossetti

USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

Stadium District
This multi-stadium complex is host to the US Open – the largest tennis tournament in the world. The 46-acre site caters to famous players, maximum crowds and hundreds of sponsors over the two-week span. The site also accommodates year-round activities, such as retail, training and recreation options. More recently, the USTA retained Rossetti to create a new 20-year Vision Plan that addresses emerging technology, hospitality, sponsorship activation and fan experience optimisation.


Daniel Zausner, Managing Director, United States Tennis Association, commented:

ROSSETTI’s design for the complex is one that has withstood the test of time. Besides being an award-winning international design firm, ROSSETTI is committed to understanding the needs of their clients.

Both SPS Terraces and ROSSETTI will be showcasing their latest projects and developments at our ‘live’ event, Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific 2015, which is being held at the Singapore Sports Hub this September, 28-30. To guarantee your place at this must-attend event – which will feature more than 40 top industry speakers and 40+ industry-leading exhibitors and sponsors – visit the website at:


The redevelopment of Wimbledon’s No.1 Court

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The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has appointed UK-based architecture firm, KSS, to provide a full range of architectural and design services for the redevelopment of the No.1 Court at Wimbledon.

The No.1 Court upgrades will include the construction of a new fixed and bespoke retractable roof providing cover to the entire playing surface allowing for uninterrupted play throughout The Championships.

The AELTC took the early decision to adopt BIM for the project, setting out clear contractual requirements and clear benefits have already been seen from a design coordination point of view. This has enabled KSS – a leading sports architecture practice, specialising in football stadia and training centres – to progress the coordination of a complex building, roof geometry and steel structure with an extensive building services requirement serving not only the internal hospitality suites, restaurants and back of house spaces, but also the seating bowl and most importantly the grass playing surface on the No.1 Court itself.

The reconfigured No.1 Court includes the improvement of public facilities, 15 new hospitality suites on a completely remodelled level, catering facilities, commentary boxes and improved seating bringing the overall capacity to over 12,000 seats.

In addition, the redevelopment will provide the backdrop to a major new landscaped entrance plaza, whilst also providing spectacular views over the outer courts, which is part of a wider masterplan at Wimbledon.


Existing roof, static.

No.1 Court’s existing static roof.



Proposed retractable roof.

Proposed retractable roof.

The new retractable roof will improve the distinctive character of the No.1 Court and allow for natural light to reach the grass on the court creating optimum spectator comfort and player performance maintaining the tradition of the historic show court. In 2009, similar work was carried out at Wimbledon with a 16m-high retractable roof installed at Centre Court ushering in a new era at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

KSS will be progressing the designs up to construction, which will be phased after this year’s Championships over a four-year period and is scheduled to be completed in 2019. The new designs will conserve Wimbledon’s unique and special heritage, enhancing the environment and spectator experience, providing an exciting future for the AELTC retaining its status as the premier Grand Slam event in world tennis.


Project team:

Architects: KSS

Client: AELTC

Mechanical Engineers: M-E Engineers

Structural Engineers: Thornton Tomasetti


Images courtesy: KSS

Main image caption: No.1 Court, Wimbledon, Level 4 Suite.


NB: Our Q2/Summer ’15 edition of PanStadia & Arena Management magazine will include features on BIM in stadia design and the latest innovations in roofing design & engineering, as well as a UK Country Focus highlighting the key sports venue developments.

Construction underway on Populous-designed Zhuhai International Tennis Centre

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Construction has begun on the new $84m Zhuhai International Tennis Centre, on Hengqin Island in Guangdong Province, China, designed by global sports architects, Populous, with the first stage scheduled for completion in time to host a WTA event in November 2015.


This marks the second high-profile international standard tennis centre to be designed by Populous, the designers of Wimbledon Centre Court’s moving roof and the recently completed Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.


The firm won the Zhuhai Tennis Centre following a high-profile international competition. All work done during the competition and then developing the design after the competition has been carried out from Populous’ Asian headquarters in Brisbane, Australia.


Populous Asian Director, Senior Principal, Andrew James, said the market for tennis and other leisure sports like horse riding is growing rapidly in China. He added:

This is not only because of an increasing middle class who have more leisure time, but also because the Chinese Government is now more focused on professional sports.

This facility will set a construction benchmark for China because of its complexity.


Zhuhai Tennis Centre will host the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai from 2015-2019. The first stage of the Centre’s development, which will be completed by next September, includes a Centre Court with 5,000 seats, as well as 5 other match courts, including a 1,000-seat court and 12 training courts.


Populous has carried out the architectural design, interior design and landscape design of the project.


Image copyright: Populous

US Tennis Association (USTA) plans training centre in Orlando

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The world’s largest tennis organisation, the US Tennis Association (USTA), is planning to build a national-scale training facility at Lake Nona in southeast Orlando.


The Association confirmed in a statement this week that it has signed a letter of intent with Lake Nona Land Co. to construct a state-of-the-art tennis campus.


Chris Widmaier, Managing Director of the USTA, said:

It would be a comprehensive facility that would provide court access, coaching and player development for virtually every level of the game.


Based in White Plains, NY, the USTA has more than 770,000 members worldwide.


Widmaier could not provide details on a construction timetable, the number of courts or the cost of the project at the mixed-use development, known primarily for its ‘Medical City’ of hospitals and medical-research institutes. He said a final decision on the project is expected within the next few weeks.


Rollins College men’s tennis coach, Ron Bohrnstedt, a former USTA board member, said the Association outlined the centre for members earlier this month during its annual conference near Carlsbad, CA. As conceived, he said, the facility could have as many as 100 courts — more than any other tennis centre in the country. He added:

I’ve seen a lot of facilities that have a lot of courts, but nothing to this degree. It’s a major project.


Widmaier said that at least at first, the centre would not host professional tournaments, though it might offer competitions for amateur tennis leagues. Training centres generally offer programmes for high-school and college tennis players but may also develop league players and professionals.


In the past, the USTA has staged national-league tournaments at Sanlando Park, a county park with 25 hard courts on 40 acres in Altamonte Springs.


The Lake Nona location provides perfect weather conditions for year-round tennis and offers easy access to Orlando International Airport for visiting players. It also lends itself to national and regional tournaments, and synergy with sports-medicine research at Medical City.


Bohrnstedt said it would help him recruit players for the Rollins men’s team and provide a neutral site for matches with the University of Central Florida tennis team.


Bev Buckley, the coach of Rollins’ women’s tennis team, called the proposal “exciting news for the tennis community in Central Florida”. She said it would complement the training, nutrition and physiology work done by doctors at the Health Performance Institute at Lake Nona. She added:

This new facility will attract top players from all over the country.


It’s unclear whether government incentives would be sought to help finance the project. Tavistock Group, headed by billionaire Joe Lewis, owns Lake Nona and was instrumental in getting more than US$362m in incentives for the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.


In Florida tennis circles, the highest-profile training facility is the IMG Academy Bollettieri Tennis programme in Bradenton, with longtime coach Nick Bollettieri credited with coaching 10 top-ranked players, including Andre Agassi and Venus and Serena Williams.


The USTA’s training-centre headquarters are in Boca Raton, FL, which offer 9 hard courts and 14 clay courts. Its Eastern US training facility in Flushing, NY, is aimed at elite young players, and in the West, the USTA has a training centre in Carson, CA.

USTA confirms $550m National Tennis Center stadiums and retractable roof

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The USTA has announced its plans for a sweeping transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center that will include the construction of two new stadiums, as well as a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The facility will be able to accommodate an extra 10,000 people each day during the US Open, increasing attendance by approximately 1,200,000 visitors.

USTA Chairman of the Board and President Dave Haggerty said:

We have been working toward a viable design for a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium for more than a decade. Through a long and arduous process, we feel that we now have a design that meets the criteria of being architecturally sound, aesthetically pleasing, reasonably affordable, and buildable.

Gordon Smith, USTA Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, added:

We have an aggressive construction agenda for the entire National Tennis Center, with a new Grandstand Court built in time for the 2015 US Open, new retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium by 2017, and a new Louis Armstrong Stadium opening for the 2018 US Open. We recognize there are many known, and certainly many unknown, hurdles we will have to confront to meet this schedule. We are ready for the challenge and hope we can achieve it.

The cost for the transformation is estimated at $550 million, including the cost of the retractable roof, estimated at $150 million. As it has done with improvements to the National Tennis Center in the past, the USTA will self-finance the entire cost of this transformation through a combination of bonds and USTA revenue generation. Since 1994, the USTA has invested more than $500 million in improvements to the site.

In addition to the roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium, phase one of construction is scheduled to include the shifting of the existing practice courts and two tournament courts to the north. This will allow the construction of an expanded viewing area for the practice courts and the three new tournament courts. This enhanced fan experience will require the re-building of the current transportation facilities located adjacent to Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The retractable roof is being designed by ROSSETTI, the designer and architect of Arthur Ashe Stadium. The USTA has hired Hunt Construction Group to build the retractable roof structure. As designed, the retractable roof constructed of flexible, translucent PTFE fabric stretched over a steel frame, will be supported by eight steel columns surrounding Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Phase two of the transformation will be anchored by the construction of a new 8,000-seat Grandstand Stadium in the southwest quadrant of the Tennis Center. Simultaneously, field courts 7 through 16 will be moved south so that a larger pedestrian and fan esplanade can be created, better connecting the new Grandstand with Court 17. This southern expansion also allows the USTA to further enhance the fan experience, with a new additional food court, new merchandise locations and sponsor exhibit booths, and other fan amenities across the southern expanse of the Tennis Center.

The project’s final phase will include the construction of a new 15,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium. The USTA expects final design work for Armstrong to be completed in the next 12 to 18 months. The targeted completion date of the stadium, which will be built “roof-ready,” is August 2018. Also during the third phase, the USTA will complete a series of upgrades to the East Entrance, the most trafficked entry point to the US Open.

Wimbledon accommodates increased demand

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Wimbledon has increased capacity by using Clearview grandstands.

Wimbledon has increased capacity by using Clearview grandstands.

The 2013 Wimbledon Championships increased spectator capacity and comfort by using a range of Arena Group’s new Olympic infrastructure, adding to the growing number of events to benefit from the state-of-the-art products that were proven during last year’s Games.

The Arena Group team installed 3,500 temporary seats across ten courts, including 1,000 Clearview seats on court 12. Used to construct the London 2012 Beach Volleyball stadium at Horse Guards Parade, Arena Group utilised the same grandstand substructure for Wimbledon, investing in custom green seats to ensure the aesthetic continuity of the prestigious tournament.

Arena Seating Sales and Marketing Director Dave Withey said:

Every year the Wimbledon Championships look to the future; building on the success of previous years they continue to innovate and upgrade their facilities with the latest equipment. We’re proud to work with such a progressive organisation, where we can work together to improve spectator experience year-on-year. Utilising our Olympic legacy stock has helped us to meet this aim.

Bespoke green and white structures were used for luxury hospitality chalets, catering and retail outlets, children’s fan zone and public practice courts. Arena Deck, Arena’s custom designed lightweight decking product with glass handrails, formed an exterior viewing platform overlooking the practice courts.

Spaceworks and Well Dressed Tables – Arena’s event interior division – supplied furniture and tableware to the temporary structures including its new Chesterfields sofa range and Bella garden furniture in outside hospitality areas.