Australian Open 2020 will stretch right into the city of Melbourne as the tournament premieres the biggest Grand Slam footprint in world tennis.
Starting at Federation Square, in the heart of the city, and flowing through Birrarung Marr and Melbourne Park onto Richmond Station, the initiative is the result of nearly a decade of planning.
Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley reflected on his long-term goal of expanding the footprint of the event at the official launch of the AO today.
“The Australian Open really takes over the city, and Melbourne embraces the event with more enthusiasm and excitement than any of the other Grand Slams,” said Tiley. “The players love the AO’s proximity to the city, and we always strive to maximise that and ensure the site is as accessible as possible to both the city and Richmond.
“Starting the AO experience at Federation Square has always made a lot of sense to us, and has been part of our long-term strategy for many years. We have been getting closer and closer every year. We are so excited to have Fed Square officially on board as part of the Australian Open for 2020, and to be a key focus of the biggest AO ever.
“This is the best sport and entertainment precinct in the world – bar none – and we want to represent it appropriately. We first moved into Birrarung Marr in 2016, before the opening of Tanderrum Bridge effectively turned the Melbourne Park precinct towards the city in 2017. Now, with the addition of Fed Square, we are bringing this vision to life.”
The huge footprint and sheer size of the precinct – the biggest in Grand Slam tennis – will further cement the Australian Open’s reputation as one of the most fan-friendly sports and entertainment events in the world.
Fed Square will be a major focus point during the tournament, with a free live site celebrating the best of tennis – with all the action live on the big screen, along with Melbourne’s best food and entertainment.
It’s not just the footprint that’s bigger and better than ever, with the AO now consolidating its position as a three-week event.
In a Grand Slam first, electronic line calling will feature on all courts during Qualifying, which runs from Tuesday 14 to Friday 17 January, with free entry for fans.
More entertainment, the AO Fan Shop, play areas for the kids and tennis activations continue right through to the AO City Entrance at Birrarung Marr.
Deakin Edge will host year two of the AO Kids Club childcare program, running daily from 10am to 9pm throughout the tournament. New for 2020 is a ‘Date Night’ service from 6pm to 9pm, allowing busy parents to experience the Australian Open after dark.
The AO Ballpark, presented by Emirates, doubles in size in 2020, and takes over both the Upper and Lower Terrace at Birrarung Marr, with activities on offer for kids of all ages, including ANZ Tennis Hot Shots courts, zip lines, kart racing, super soakers, live entertainment and family friendly food offerings.
The AO Live Stage is also back, with the return of the sensational giant shade structure and super-sized water misters, more seating and delicious new food offerings.
Fifteen days of music at the AO Live Stage will kick off with a new Girls Day Out concert on Sunday 19 January, with the all-female line-up to be announced soon. British rocker Billy Idol will perform on Wednesday 29 January with the rest of the line-up to be revealed in November.
The Practice Village, a new world-class fan experience, will bring tennis enthusiasts even closer to the big name stars as they prepare for their matches. The practice schedule will be easily accessible via onsite LED display screens and the new and improved AO app which will help fans plan their day.
The new Practice Village will be established at the National Tennis Centre end of the site and will include new viewing platforms, more seating and shade, along with a variety of family-friendly food options.
The Richmond entrance, easily accessible from Richmond Station, will be the major gateway to the Practice Village and eastern end of the precinct.