Published at The Age on Jan. 11 2017.
Tennis Australia is downplaying concerns that closing Rod Laver Arena’s primary entrance will cause confusion for fans at this month’s Australian Open.
As a part of the Melbourne Park redevelopment, Birrarung Marr’s new Tanderrum Bridge will be the central entrance to the Australian Open. The move brings the grand slam closer to the city and away from its conventional entrance on Olympic Boulevard
The stairs at the front of Rod Laver Arena have been removed, with big blue boarding blocking off what is now exclusively a loading dock.
The move has sparked fears that fans unaware of the developments will be left in limbo when they arrive at the traditional Olympic Boulevard entrance.
Speaking on Wednesday morning to 3AW, Tennis Australia’s director of events and facilities, Tom Larner, assured fans they would benefit from the “much quicker trip” from Flinders Street station.
“There’s a lot of staff around to help people get to the Australian Open and make sure they come the right way,” he said.
“We’ll also have a lot of directional signage as well, making sure that if people do come to the front door of Rod Laver Arena they are informed of where the fan entry is.”
Organisers have also created a substitute entry nearby at Grand Slam Oval.
Larner told Fairfax Media the move was made to showcase the “new, amazing” Birrarung Marr precinct.
“It’s about making access to the site from the city as easy as possible,” he said.
“This significantly cuts the travel time for many. The key component is the festival entrance at Tanderrum Bridge, which will reduce a walk that was up to 900 metres from some.”
The relocation will accommodate for an increased focus on the Australian Open festival, a carnival run in conjunction with the tennis. The Tanderrum Bridge entrance will bring fans through the festival, showcasing the activities on offer.
The festival launches over the weekend with two free concerts, headlined by Australian singer-songwriter Missy Higgins and Tkay Maidza.