Melbourne Park to get face-lift

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Australian Open tennis organisers have reached a deal with the local state government to redevelop the facilities at Melbourne Park to ensure that grand slam tennis remains at its current site.

Melbourne Park had a contract to host the first grand slam of the year until 2016 but tennis and government officials have now unveiled plans to keep it there permanently. The Victoria state government said the plans include increasing the seating capacity on the showcourts, building a roof over the Margaret Court Arena, a massive undercover courtyard for spectators and improving player and media facilities. " It is the biggest event by far of any event which is held around Australia and we need to keep it post–2016 because the world is a more competitive place, " Victoria's state premier told reporters in Melbourne. Whilst it is best known for being a tennis venue, Melbourne Park also plays host to a number of other sports and musical events throughout the year. The venue tends to be used by more popular international performers, as it is the largest the city has to offer, excluding the Telstra Dome in the Docklands and the nearby Melbourne Cricket Ground, which are both hugely expensive. Since its inception, Melbourne Park has played host to Kiss, Madonna, Pearl Jam, Kylie Minogue, Cher, Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain, CÉline Dion and Neil Diamond, among many others. The Two Tribes dance and Livid alternative rock festivals are also held there annually. Melbourne Park was built in 1988 beside the Jolimont Yards as a new venue to host the Australian Open, as Kooyong, the previous venue, had become too small. It was originally known as the National Tennis Centre at Flinders Park until 1996, when then–Premier Jeff Kennett decided to rename it Melbourne Park, mainly to advertise the name 'Melbourne' to a wide international audience. The decision was met with strong opposition, and was compared by some to renaming Roland Garros Stadium (home to the French Open in Paris) " Paris Park" . However, over the years, it has become accepted by the Melbourne community.

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