Australia Open launches on-court seats for cashed-up fans

Tennis Australia commercial director Richard Heaselgrave sitting in the front row – which is now actually on the court – at Melbourne Park. Photo: Mathew LynnFancy getting up close and personal with the likes of Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams while they do what they do best at the Australian Open?
Nanjing Night Net

You can. At a premium price.

This year, for the first time, Tennis Australia will allow spectators on centre court, metres from the world’s top-ranked players as they battle for the first grand slam trophies of the year and places in sporting history.

They call it the “Jack Nicholson experience”, after the American actor regularly pictured spectating from the edge of the court during US basketball games.

But, before you get too excited, a seat on centre court at Rod Laver Arena will set you back at least a four-figure sum.

Tennis Australia is keeping the exact figure close to its chest, but says the price will fluctuate depending on who is playing.

In other words, expect to pay more if you’re hoping to see Djokovic or Kerber defend their titles, hear Kyrgios mutter or catch a drop of Serena Williams sweat.

Tennis Australia’s commercial director Richard Heaselgrave told The Australian Financial Review the price of the on-court seating would be “quite a lot of money” for the average punter.

He said the 16 seats, which have replaced the old photographers’ pit at Melbourne Park, were inspired by premium spectator experiences at NBA basketball games in the United States.

“There are a lot of dynamic things happening in other sports, but you’re going where no one’s gone before with these seats,” he said.

The on-court seats come as Australian sporting clubs and venues – both within and beyond the tennis world – jostle for new revenue streams from wealthy fans. These ‘premium’ experiences can include locker room meet-and-greets and one-on-one chats with coaches.

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