Wimbledon's concrete mix

Click to follow
"They've concreted Wimbledon. My God, what have they done?" The cry of despair on the first day of the championships was heard more than once yesterday as fans faced the prospect of lawnless tennis amid a theme-park fantasy, writes James Cusick.

Green-painted concrete, hanging baskets of flowers against concrete walls, geometric concrete fountains, and railway-arch style hospitality suites are part of the All England Club's attempt to camouflage the building site that will become a pounds 100m new stadium. In the most expensive transformation of any sports arena in Britain, the new stadium will increase capacity from 7,000 to 11,000. In the meantime, the site resembles a concrete Shakespearean theatre-in-the-round with fake grass, fake fences and fake tenting. The corporate hospitality-takers look out on 420 tons of rolled top soil and concrete stairs leading nowhere.

Video monitors assured worried fans that all would be well by 1997. Those contemplating architectural criticism in the style of Prince Charles should hold off until then.