Wimbledon press release as furor mounts over proposed new 8,000-seater show ground | Tennis | sport

The All England Club has hit back at local opposition to a plan for a new 8,000-seater show ground at Wimbledon. The plans have been in place for some time and reached a boiling point on the eve of the tournament, with organizers modifying the proposal to make them more attractive to communities and local authorities who have strongly opposed the ideas.

According to Daily Mail, crucial local authority planning hearings are to be scheduled for the end of September to determine whether 39 new courts – including a larger stadium – can be built on nearby land which currently houses a golf course. It’s yet another headache for Wimbledon organizers after the 2022 championships were shrouded in controversy, including the removal of ranking points due to the banning of Russian and Belarusian players from the competition.

Prior to this year’s edition of the Grand Slam on grass, the original planning request had been changed. However, the changes were not enough to satisfy stiff opposition, including a coalition of MPs, councilors and local residents’ associations.

The proposed 8,000-seat stadium, which would become the third-largest arena on the Wimbledon ground after Center Court and No. 1 Court, is set to take place on a designated metropolitan open ground. The All England Club pointed out that the ground is currently only available to members of the neighboring golf club, who are due to move out at the end of 2022.

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Amid local opposition, the All England Club issued a statement to refute claims that a proposed new 23-acre public park to be built is ‘a small part of development which will have no protection against future development “. The proposed park would be on the golf course.

“The Wimbledon Park project proposals seek to achieve two main objectives: to maintain the Championships at the pinnacle of the sport and to provide a substantial year-round public benefit to our local community,” the All England Club statement read.

“At the heart of these proposals is the opening up of previously private land for the benefit of thousands of local residents in Merton and Wandsworth. Benefits include the creation of a new 9.4 hectare public park, a new promenade around Lake Wimbledon Park and community use of new land and facilities offered during the year.

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The last claim in the statement is particularly controversial. The updated plans allow for seven grass pitches to be available for public use between the end of the tournament and the pitch closing in early September.

The Union of Wimbledon Residents’ Associations described the access granted to the scheduled courts as “negligible”. Merton and Wandsworth planning committees will decide, and it is also possible that the plans will be referred to the Mayor of London’s office or even the Secretary of State.

Wimbledon’s plan for the historic £100million expansion program has faced multiple forms of objection, including a notable cross-party alliance between Tory Stephen Hammond of Wimbledon and Labour’s Fleur Anderson in Putney. The couple overcame political differences to ask councils in Merton and Wandsworth to hold planning meetings solely devoted to debating the project before ultimately urging them to reject the proposals.

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