A major upgrade of Auckland’s ASB Tennis Centre is well underway, with the work made possible due to a $5.5 million grant from Auckland Council.
In March the council’s Environment and Community Committee approved the grant towards the upgrade of the stands at the Stanley Street facility. Work includes increasing spectator capacity to meet minimum requirements for tournaments such as the ASB Classic tennis tournaments.
Ōrākei Ward Councillor Desley Simpson, who moved the funding resolution, recently visited the centre to check on progress on a project that has to be ready in time for the international events in January 2020.
“Construction timeframes are tight, but it is imperative these stands are completed on time and on budget,” she says.
“This upgrade is going to lead to great benefits for tennis, great benefits for Auckland and will provide a good return on investment for ratepayers.”
Tennis Auckland chief executive Marcus Reynolds says the renovations are long overdue and vital for tournaments in the future.
“The stands here were built about 60 years ago but as The ASB Classic has changed and the level of tennis has got better and better, the need to improve the facilities has become more and more important.”
“If we didn’t do this, there is a real risk we could lose hosting rights for these tournaments as we currently don’t meet minimum capacity requirements. Just as important though, the revenue generated from hosting is used to invest back into community tennis.”
This includes the Tennis Hot Shots programme for more than 9500 school children, skills programmes across schools and the 8500 members across 53 clubs, workshops and other initiatives. It also supports maintenance and other costs at three community facilities in Manukau, Mt Eden and Glen Innes.
“That these events effectively fund tennis at a community level in Auckland tells you why it is important the city retains them,” adds Cr Simpson.
Putting Auckland on the map
Every summer the ASB Tennis Arena hosts the annual ASB Classic, part of the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) and ATP Tour (Association of Tennis Professionals (men’s) international events.
The tournaments inject about $12 million into the local economy each year through stays in local hotels, spending at restaurants, local attractions and shopping. The social media following of some of players today means a lot of eyes are on Auckland.
“The top three players we had had the women’s tournament last year had around a combined 20 million followers, and the tournaments attract a global television audience of around 94 million viewers – that’s massive,” says Mr Reynolds.
The work is expected to be completed in November this year.