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French Open to Appeal Ruling on Tennis Stadium Expansion

March 1 (Bloomberg) -- Organizers of the French Open said they will appeal a Parisian court’s decision to block the expansion of the Roland Garros tennis facility.

The 273 million euros ($354 million) upgrade of the existing site, home to the world’s only clay-court tennis major, was approved by the city in 2011.

The tribunal today ruled that to be illegal because information given was “insufficient” at the time of voting and that the fee paid by the French Tennis Federation was too little given the amount of cash it would make from the upgrade, Agence-France Presse said. The French Tennis Federation, or FFT, said it will appeal.

“The FFT’s determination to carry out this project remains intact: it is vital for the sustainability of the French Open, a major part of French sporting heritage that contributes to the country’s international influence and the development of French tennis,” the FFT said today in an e-mailed statement.

The French Open has been played on the red clay courts of Roland Garros, located on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne in the 16th arrondissement of the French capital, since 1928.

Originally covering eight acres of land with five courts, Roland Garros now has 20 outside courts spread over 21 acres. Still, it remains the smallest of the four tennis majors, and players, press and spectators frequently complain about its lack of space.

Under the 2011 plans, the expanded site would cover almost 35 acres and include 35 outside courts, a new 5,000-seat stadium and a new press center. The main Philippe Chatrier court would be redesigned and feature a retractable roof.

Other Venues

Organizers had been considering alternative venues after plans announced in the spring of 2009 to build a new 120 million-euro stadium near Roland Garros stalled because of a lack of consensus among local politicians.

Among the options were: moving the tournament close to the Palace of Versailles; to a location in Marne-la-Vallee, where Disneyland Paris is based; or to Gonesse, close to Charles de Gaulle airport.

In 2011, the French federation backed a fourth possibility that was a variation on the 2009 plan. Under a joint proposal by the FFT and the mayor of Paris, the existing grounds were to be renovated and a small stadium court built in the neighboring municipal greenhouses at the Jardin des Serres.

The City of Paris owns the Roland Garros site. The FFT said it would meet with the mayor as soon as March 4.

To contact the reporters on this story: Danielle Rossingh at the London sports desk drossingh@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at the London sports desk celser@bloomberg.net.

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