Rod Laver Arena
|The Tennis Centre|
|Former names||Centre Court (1988–99)|
Melbourne VIC 3001
|Owner||Melbourne & Olympic Parks|
|Opened||11 January 1988|
|Construction cost||$94 million
$23 million (1996 renovations)
|Architect||Peddle Thorp Learmonth|
|Australian Open (Tennis) (1988–present)
Melbourne Tigers (NBL) (1992–2000)
South East Melbourne Magic (NBL) (1992–1998)
Victoria Titans (NBL) (1998–2000)
Rod Laver Arena is a stadium that is part of the National Tennis Centre at Melbourne Park located in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and has been the main venue for the Australian Open in tennis since 1988, replacing the ageing Kooyong Stadium. Originally called Centre Court, the arena's name officially changed in January 2000 to honour Rod Laver, a three-time winner of the Australian Open and one of world's greatest tennis players. The arena was finished in 1988 with a seating capacity of 15,000. The venue currently attracts over 1.5 million visitors per year.
The arena features a retractable roof allowing competitors to continue play during rain or extreme heat. It is the centrepiece of the National Tennis Centre, and besides tennis, the arena hosts motorbike super-crosses, music concerts, conferences, World Wrestling Entertainment events (since 2003), and ballet.
Rod Laver Arena was the centrepiece of the 12th FINA World Aquatics Championships, which were held from 17 March-1 April 2007. A temporary swimming pool, named the Susie O'Neill Pool after Australian swimming champion Susie O'Neill, was built to allow this to happen.
Rod Laver Arena is equipped with the Hawk-Eye electronic system which allows tennis players to challenge the umpire's decision on calls made throughout championships.
On 3 April 1992, the arena became the home of Melbourne basketball when the Melbourne Tigers defeated the Canberra Cannons 112-104. The arena was also home to the South East Melbourne Magic (later renamed the Victoria Titans in 1998 after merging with the North Melbourne Giants) with both teams attracting some of the largest crowds in the history of the NBL. Rod Laver Arena was also the site of the first ever "outdoor" pro basketball game in Australia when the Magic hosted the Adelaide 36ers on 31 December 1997 with the roof open.
The largest basketball crowd at Rod Laver Arena was set in 1996 when 15,366 attended a local derby game between the Magic and Tigers while the 1996 NBL Grand Final series, also between the Magic and Tigers, saw the NBL's largest ever single game Grand Final crowd when 15,064 watched the Magic defeat the Tigers 88-84 in game two of the three game series.
1992 saw the first time two teams from the one city had reached the NBL Grand Final series when the Magic faced fellow Melbourne Park tenants the Tigers. With all games being played at the leagues largest venue a record aggregate of 43,605 (average 14,535) fans saw the Magic win their first championship two games to one, coming back to win games two and three 115-93 and 95-88 after losing game one 98-116.
In all, Rod Laver Arena hosted 287 NBL games including NBL Championship deciders in 1992, 1996, 1997 and 1999, and played host to its last game in April 2000 before Hisense Arena opened in 2000 and became the new home of Melbourne Basketball due to the continuing rising cost of staging games at the venue.
In 2009, the arena polled 9th out of 50 worldwide top arenas for first-quarter ticket sales, making it the second highest ticket selling venue in Australia, second to Sydney's Acer Arena, which placed third. In 2012, the arena became Australia's highest selling venue and 4th in the world, based on 2011 ticket sales.
From 1988 until 2007, the surface of the court in the arena was Rebound Ace, which was coloured green and known to favour serve and volley players. The surface was also blamed for many injuries in the Australian Open, with many players claiming that the surface became sticky in hot weather, making it difficult to play on.
In 2008, the surface was changed to Plexicushion, which is coloured blue. The surface is similar in properties to DecoTurf, the surface used in the US Open. This has more cushioning and more "give" than Rebound Ace. The change of surfaces gained a mostly positive reaction from players, as the surface is said to be easier to play on than Rebound Ace.
The arena is frequently used as a venue for music concerts.
American singer P!nk performed a record breaking 18 concerts at the venue in the summer of 2013 with her Truth About Love Tour, beating her own record of 17 shows from the Funhouse Tour in 2009. She is currently the artist who holds the record for most shows at the venue. Katy Perry is set to perform 8 shows at the arena as part of her Prismatic World Tour.
Lady Gaga has also performed at this venue multiple times. She performed as the opening act for the Doll Domination Tour on 26 & 27 March in 2009. She performed here in 2010 on 23, 24 March & 9 April as part of her The Monster Ball Tour and in 2012 on 27, 28, 30 June & 1 July,3 as part of her Born This Way Ball and is set to bring her ArtRave: The Artpop Ball to the venue on 23 August 2014. Another date was added on the 22 May, for 24 August 2014 due to high demand. Legendary rock band Queen featuring Adam Lambert are also set to perform two shows at the venue on 29 August and 30 August for their "Once in a lifetime tour". It's believed to be their first tour down under in 29 years.
Miley Cyrus performed in the arena during her Bangerz World Tour 2014. The singer has previously performed in the arena in 2011 during her Gypsy Heart Tour selling out 2 nights at the Rod Laver Arena in June 2011.
- "Centre court named after Laver". New Straits Times (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia). 22 December 1999. p. 43. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
- "Tennis". Melbourne & Olympic Parks. Retrieved 2013-06-28.
- Colebatch, Tim (12 January 1988). "Melbourne's state-of-the-art tennis centre is a knockout". The Age (Melbourne, Australia). Retrieved 21 October 2013.
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- "World's busiest arenas". PlaceNorthWest. 2012-01-25. Retrieved 2013-08-22.
- Brandle, Lars (2013-05-27). "Pink's Australia Tour Breaks Melbourne Venue Record". Billboard. Retrieved 2013-06-28.
Media related to Rod Laver Arena at Wikimedia Commons