It is time Adelaide was put back on the tennis map. The current World Tennis Challenge has failed to attract big, current names over the journey and is nothing more than a time killer event. I mean unless you were a tennis purist, you would have hardly known that it was on this last week. In a state that boasts the Adelaide Oval, a world class cycling event and a brilliant car race, this is just an unacceptable state of affairs.
Look no further than the Hopman Cup in Perth last week where Roger Federer drew around five or six thousand people to a training session. It has been a long time since Adelaide can attest to something similar. That is the sort of crowds that make it on television, which is wonderful promotion for a city and an excellent tourism marketing campaign. Federer has in previous years done something similar for Brisbane, which is a mantle that Rafael Nadal this week took over.
Memorial Drive needs to be completely knocked down and started again. It is nothing, but a second rate venue. There has been talk that a multi purpose venue should be built on the site that could host tennis, as well as basketball and netball. Netball is outgrowing Priceline Stadium at Mile End, with four of the seven Adelaide Thunderbirds home games now to be played at Titanium Security Arena in 2017. Titanium Security Arena is also old and run down and despite containing plenty of basketball history, is also in desperate need of replacement.
The current state of Memorial Drive is going to count well and truly against any Adelaide bid for more international tennis. It is simply not up to standard. A multi-purpose venue such as Melbourne’s Hisense Arena ticks so many boxes and would again add more lustre to the ever-growing Riverbank Entertainment Precinct. Plus, as I have been campaigning for in support of for a while, be an excellent asset for a Commonwealth Games bid.
Tennis is a huge sport in Australia come January and with large scale international events held in Perth, Sydney, Hobart, Brisbane and Melbourne, Adelaide is really missing out on the action. Do we pinch one of these? Perhaps. Or do we create our own? Maybe. The options are endless. A major tennis event would help create a perfect month of summer sport in South Australia, where visitors could come across for the New Years Eve Big Bash game at Adelaide Oval, stay for a week long international tennis event next door at a new world-class, multi-purpose stadium and then stick around as the Tour Down Under gets under way. Then to finish it all off, international cricket rolls into town on Australia Day. A perfect holiday destination for the month of January for sports lovers and also locals on school holidays alike.
Many will argue that sporting stadiums and world class sporting events are a waste of time and that money could be better spent on other things. The bottom line is though, that South Australia needs to continue to think outside of the box and continue to promote itself as a modern, sporting city, because it is what we are good at. As South Australia’s economy and lack of industry continue to create problems, everything must be done to continue to create jobs and attract as many people as possible to the state to ensure the tourism dollar is flowing. International tennis is the answer to these prayers. The tourism dollar can then be spent on other areas that desperately need attention in South Australia.
South Aussies are sports lovers after all. Build it and they will come was the hope for the Adelaide Oval and there is simply no reason to doubt that a similar thing would not happen with international tennis played in a multi-purpose venue. There is nothing to lose.