Can Roland Garros Afford to Remain in Cramped Quarters?
As the French Open gets under way, the threat to move the nation’s premier tournament away from its traditional but distinctly cramped 85 year-old Roland Garros site has intensified.
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) first warned of the possibilities nearly three months ago, and as the Paris government refuses to be intimidated and the crowds flock back to the 16th arrondissement, new warnings came that a new site either at Versailles or close to the EuroDisney complex could be the French Open’s future home.
On the eve of the tournament, the FFT published a multi-page document questioning the future of Roland Garros as a venue. "Moving is an option we cannot rule out," said FFT chief Jean Gachassin.
"Of course we are very attached to the stadium at the Porte d'Auteuil. Some of the greatest pages of our sport's history have been written on these courts. This stadium has a past, a soul.
"But as this is an extremely complex project; it is our duty to consider another direction, which would be the relocation of the Roland Garros stadium."
Roland Garros is currently played on a site which less than half the size of the All England Club’s domain at Wimbledon and recently Roger Federer delivered the FFT with a long list of players’ complaints about the overcrowding caused by the presence of 450,000 spectators during the tournament fortnight.
Tournament director Gilbert Ysern said: “Roland Garros cannot stay the way it is. We have two options, make it bigger or move out. Over the last 10 years, the three other grand slam tournaments have progressed, notably in terms of infrastructure, but we haven't."