New No 1 court raises pounds 8.3m

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The Independent Online
Wimbledon expects to raise pounds 8.3m towards the cost of redevelopment by selling a series of debentures for the new No 1 Court, which is expected to be completed in time for the 1997 championships, writes John Roberts.

The All England Club announced yesterday that up to 1,000 debentures will be issued, covering the championships from 1997 to 2001, at a total cost of pounds 9,900. This comprises a nominal value of pounds 500, repayable in August 2001, a premium of pounds 8,000 and VAT of pounds 1,400.

Debenture holders will be entitled to one seat per debenture on the new court for the first 10 days of the championships for each of the five years, plus use of the Debenture Holders' Lounge, located within the new No 1 Court complex.

The all-seater No 1 Court, which will have a capacity of 11,500, is the first phase of a development project continuing into the 21st Century at an estimated cost of pounds 100m-plus.

Wimbledon first introduced debentures in 1920, initially to finance the purchase of the grounds in Church Road and the building of the Centre Court. Since then, debentures have helped finance capital improvements without affecting profits from the championships, which are passed on to the Lawn Tennis Association for the benefit of British tennis. The sum has amounted to pounds 27.9m in each of the past two years.

"It is an exciting time," John Curry, the Wimbledon chairman, said yesterday. "We particularly value the contribution already made by debenture holders towards making Wimbledon what it is today. We are delighted, therefore, that on this occasion it will be the support and investment of debenture holders, both individuals and companies, which will once again be helping us to maintain the championships' status as the premier tennis event in the world played on grass."

n Thomas Muster's first senior success on grass got Austria off to a flying start against South Africa in the Davis Cup World Group tie in Johannesburg yesterday. But the South African No 1, Wayne Ferreira, levelled the tie at 1-1 when he beat Wolfgang Schranz. Ferreira allowed Schranz, ranked 496 in the world, just one game in the first set. The debutant fought back to take the second set to a tie-break but Ferreira took it 7-2 and then went on to win the third set 6-4.

n Jacco Eltingh drew first blood for the Netherlands in their Davis Cup World Group match with India in Jaipur yesterday, beating Leander Paes 6-4, 7-5, 6-4. Rain halted play in the second match between Mahesh Bhupathi and Jan Siemerink. The match was evenly poised 2-2 in sets with Bhupathi 3-2 ahead in the decider.

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