Craig Tiley has committed to continuing to invest in the Australian Open to maintain its position as the premier event on Australia’s sports calendar.
TA has renewed its agreement with the Victorian government to secure the Grand Slam of Asia Pacific at Melbourne Park until 2046, despite concerns about potential risks from Saudi Arabia and China. The tournament, which spans 15 days in January and includes a qualifying competition, has grown into a massive billion-dollar affair that extends beyond just tennis.
If there is live entertainment, business meeting spaces for global negotiations, and playgrounds for children with zip-lining, water slides, and various other activities, the current Open event has attracted a record-breaking 1.1 million fans. This tournament brings in approximately $500 million to Victoria annually. Tiley is aware that all of this could be lost if TA fails to stay focused.
“We will always appreciate it,” Tiley, the organizer of the tournament, stated to AAP as he explained his strategy to keep the Open despite growing competition from wealthy Saudis. “I’ll explain why it’s a constant concern: because someone could suddenly decide, ‘We have an event with $100 million in prize money, and I will invite the top 32 players and guarantee each one $2 million.’ That is a threat. It is possible for people to do that, and there are no barriers preventing them from doing so in January.”
When the leader mentioned the Australian [Open] being in danger, it is not in danger of being relocated, but rather there is concern that something else may take place at the same time. This is why it is important for us to continuously invest in the growth and infrastructure of the area, and to constantly evolve and improve. Our approach to growth is very active.
This year’s changes to the tournament were significant, such as beginning on a Sunday (a first in over 100 years) and attracting an extra 80,000 viewers. The addition of the Party Court 6, complete with a bar, sparked some concerns from players about disruptive and possibly inebriated spectators. Additionally, fans were given more leeway to move around between matches on the main courts.
I am proud to announce that we are revolutionizing the fan experience,” stated Tiley, praising the TA board for authorizing significant expenses after quickly resolving the organization’s Covid-19-related debts. “The team worked diligently to quickly eliminate our debt and repay our loan to the government. We also managed to decrease our expenses.”
“For eighteen months, we had a restriction on the number of employees and their salaries remained stagnant or only slightly increased. However, we implemented strategies that helped us maintain a low cost structure, affecting all areas of the company. This year, we chose to allocate funds towards expanding the growth of the AO.”
The Melbourne Park area currently spans over 2km and is close to reaching Federation Square in the city. However, there are intentions to expand it even further. According to Tiley, the board allowed them to invest in the area, resulting in a significant amount of profit being used to create a top-notch experience for players and fans. Additionally, funds were also distributed to member associations to support the development of the sport and provide assistance for athletes.