Wimbledon has almost doubled prices for a guaranteed seat on Centre Court to raise 100 million pounds to pay off a loan on the roof over its main stadium and refurbish the site in southwest London.
The All England Lawn Tennis Ground Plc, which owns the grounds of the world’s only grass-court tennis major, will issue 2,500 Centre Court debenture tickets at a price of 50,000 pounds ($84,020) each for 2016-2020, it said today in an e-mailed statement.
That’s 80 percent more than in the previous sale, when the debentures -- which gives the right to a reserved seat on Centre Court for every day of the tournament in the five-year period, as well as car parking and access to the debenture holders’ restaurants and bars -- were priced at 27,750 pounds for 2011-2015, and the club raised 60 million pounds. They were sold for 12,250 pounds from 2007 to 2011. The club said earlier this year it aimed to raise 100 million pounds from the 2016-2020 debenture sale.
The price hike comes after Andy Murray last year became the first British man to win the singles title at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
The money will be used to pay off a 35 million pound balance on a loan taken out to fund the construction of a retractable roof over Centre Court, the club said. It will also invest in improvements on its site at London’s Church Road, where it has been located since 1922.
The club is planning to build a retractable roof over No. 1 Court by 2019. Centre Court has had a retractable roof since 2009 after years of struggles with rain delays. Wimbledon also plans to build three new courts north of No. 1, new player accommodations and landscaping that aims to give fans the experience of “tennis in an English garden,” it said last year.
Centre Court debentures, which are sold every five years, were first marketed by the All England Club in 1920 to pay for the construction of what’s become the world’s most famous tennis court.
Around half a million tennis fans visit the Wimbledon championships each summer in southwest London. Unlike tickets from the heavily oversubscribed public ballot, debentures are freely transferable. One debenture valid for the 2011-2015 period was sold for 96,250 pounds in January, according to the Wimbledon website. Historically, preference has been given to existing debenture holders for the next round, it said.
The Wimbledon championships will be held June 23 through July 6. The club will announce its prize money pot for this year’s tournament next week.