Published February 13, 2011
PARIS – The French Open is staying at Roland Garros, which the French Tennis Federation says it will renovate instead of moving the clay-court Grand Slam elsewhere.
Three other projects were bidding to host the year's second Grand Slam tournament by 2016.
The proposed new venues at Versailles, close to the hugely popular Versailles palace, and in the suburbs at Gonesse and Marne-La-Vallee were considerably more costly because they would have required building from scratch.
The federation said in a statement Sunday that it had chosen to renovate Roland Garros, located in western Paris for more than 80 years, without immediately giving the reasons for the decision.
Gonesse was eliminated in the first round of voting and Versailles in the second. In the final round, Roland Garros received 70.13 percent of the votes to eliminate Marne-La-Vallee.
Roland Garros is the smallest venue at the four Grand Slams, which also include the Australian Open at Melbourne, the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows in New York and London's grass-court event at Wimbledon.
Fans and players have complained about the congestion at Roland Garros because of its narrow walkways and the stiflingly limited size of the complex.
Plans call for an extension of the current site from 21.3 acres to about 33.8 acres.
Among the renovation options are building a retractable roof over the center court (Philippe Chatrier), and a new adjacent stadium with a capacity of 8,000 to help ease congestion and increase the number of courts available.
Renovation costs have been estimated at around $339 million, while the three other potential venues carry an estimated price tag of between $637 million and $1.1 billion.
Local residents, wildlife enthusiasts and municipal authorities in Paris' leafy western hub have all previously voiced their anger at the plans to refurbish Roland Garros.