New-look Roland Garros hits fresh delay over greenhouses


Paris (AFP)

The 400 million euro ($447m) expansion of Roland Garros, the famed home of the French Open, hit another snag Thursday when work on a new stadium was delayed in an ongoing row centred on a set of historic greenhouses.

A Paris tribunal ordered a suspension to the ongoing work taking place in the Auteuil gardens which border the tennis complex situated in the city's leafy and plush western 16th district.

The new-look Roland Garros has long been a bone of contention especially for the impact on the gardens which boast greenhouses dating back to the late 19th century.

The French Tennis Federation (FFT) said they had been expecting the latest suspension -- ordered after protests from the descendants of Jean-Camille Formige, the designer of the greenhouses -- and will appeal.

"The FFT deeply regrets to note that despite the unanimous agreement of all official bodies consulted....the necessary modernisation of the Roland Garros stadium is slowed by legal actions that delay the start of a project reconciling the city, sport and nature," the FFT said in a statement.

They added: "The historical greenhouses will not be destroyed but fully safeguarded and the garden will be embellished by the new development."

The FFT said that it is committed to financing 95 percent of the cost of Roland Garros's expansion which is estimated at between 350-400 million euro.

"The French Open generates 300 million euro each year in economic benefits for Paris and for amateur tennis in France," the FFT added.

Roland Garros was built in 1928 but has long struggled to cope with the huge crowds attracted to the season's second Grand Slam staged at the end of May and start of June.

A semi-sunken new court is planned for the Auteuil gardens while the showcase Philippe Chatrier Court will be fitted with a retractable roof.