The Australian Open is arguably the largest annual sporting event in the southern hemisphere. Translated into financial infusions, the event brings a gross economic benefit in excess of over $200 million AUD and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to Melbourne.
Chief executive of Tennis Australia Craig Tiley opines that a pledge of a three-stage upgrade package to the sporting precinct is a small price to pay, since it has been estimated that the Australian Open earns the State of Victoria more than $200 million AUD annually. Not only Victoria, but Australia as a whole relies heavily on Melbourne’s sporting calendar to attract tourists and infuse money into the country’s economy.
Although the redevelopment plan for Melbourne Park has a price tag of almost $1 billion AUD, the investment has secured the event for Melbourne until 2036. The first stage of renovations has been completed, including 1,500 extra stadium seats, plus a fully retractable roof for the Margaret Court Arena, which means that three of the principal courts now have such roofs. The additions were made to avoid the interruption of play due to extreme weather, which represented an issue in 2014 when players complained of heat exhaustion. Stage two involves upgrades to Rod Laver Arena and a pedestrian path which connects Melbourne Park to the train station.
The impact the Australian Open has on the country’s economy does not refer solely to the number of visitors it brings or the amount of money it generates, but also to the manner in which it boosts Australian businesses. According to the BBC, business such as Melbourne International Tennis School (MITS) profit greatly from the sporting event.
MITS’ Michael Baroch told the publication they send their kids “to actually go and watch the best players in the world” and observe how they play technically, tactically and mentally. Mr Baroch believes having Australian Open in Melbourne is “really advantageous,” especially since the business has one campus in Melbourne and the other in Singapore.
Australian Open impacts other types of businesses, too. The UK-based broadcaster reveals that Australia’s P&O Cruises launched a customised Australian Open Cruise from Sydney to Melbourne which includes admission to the matches. According to Tammy Marshall, the company’s senior vice president, some 1,800 cruise passengers booked the customised cruise six months in advance. Ms Marshall also mentioned that the venture brings in not only a bigger spending power to Melbourne, but also a boost of $1 million AUD to the Victorian economy.
The BBC quoted John Eren, state minister for sport and tourism saying sporting events represent “a universal language” worth about $1.8 billion AUD to the economy in Victoria.
With another 30 years of being identified with Australian Open, Melbourne has secured its status as a global tennis destination.