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French Open to have new centre court with roof by 2014

sports Updated: May 26, 2009 23:28 IST

Reuters
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A new centre court equipped with a retractable roof will be used at Roland Garros for the French Open by 2013 or 2014, tennis officials said on Thursday.

The court, with a capacity of 14,600, was supposed to be ready for the 2012 Olympics but France's failure to secure the Games has delayed the project.

"This project is very important for French tennis, our tournament's future depends on it," French federation (FFT) president Jean Gachassin told reporters.

The new centre court, whose roof is set to fully close in 10 minutes, will also host the Paris Masters, usually played at Bercy sports hall, but no date has been set yet.

"The goal is to have an outdoor stadium that can be covered, instead of an indoor stadium that can be uncovered," said Marc Mimram, the architect at the head of the project.

"There is a special atmosphere because of the season (spring). There will be an anti-noise barrier made of glass and will be oriented towards South to keep the daylight as long as possible."

Of the four grand slam events, the Australian Open has two courts with a roof, while Wimbledon's Centre Court will have a new translucent retractable roof from this year. US Open organisers are considering building a roof over its main court.

The overall cost of the French roof has been estimated at around 120 million euros ($163 million), Gachassin said.

Paris City Council and the French government are set to invest 20 million euros each in the project.

"They are committed to it and there is no reason why they should pull out. There is no reason to fear that," said FFT director Gilbert Ysern.

The heavy building work will start in 2010 or 2011 and is expected to be finished three years later.

Since it was built in 1928, Roland Garros has been extended from eight to 24.7 acres and from three to 23 courts.