Golf club vote makes £65m Wimbledon expansion more likely

The All England Lawn Tennis Club – operator of the Wimbledon grand slam – moved a step closer to tripling the size of its ground after members of a nearby golf course agreed to hold a vote on whether to sell their land to the championships.

Members of the Wimbledon Park Golf Club, which sits across the road from the site of the grand slam, have changed their constitution, paving the way for a vote in December on whether to accept a £65m ($85.76m) offer from the AELTC to buy out the lease for their land.

The members of the golf club resolved by more than the required 75 per cent majority to change the club’s articles of association so all 750 members can split the spoils rather than just those who have been with the club for more than 10 years. Each member would now stand to make £85,000 from the sale, making it much more likely the members will approve Wimbledon’s offer.

Wimbledon already owns the lease for the golf club but control of it does not revert back to the AELTC until 2041. The AELTC reportedly wrote to the 750 members of the golf club to tell them that the offer was final and would not be improved.

“In 2041 it’s going to come to us naturally because that’s when the lease runs out,” said Mick Desmond, the AELTC’s commercial and media director, at the Leaders Sport Business Summit. “So for us it’s really buying a 20-year window.”

The move would add 73 acres (295,421 square metres) to the 42 acres currently used to host the British Grand Slam. It is thought the land could be used to build courts for qualifying matches.

Desmond said the AELTC was keeping a close eye on the expansion plans of other Grand Slams, notably the US Open (which completed a $600m renovation of its home, the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center, this year) and France’s Roland Garros, which will complete an overhaul of the site of the French Open by 2020.

The All England Club is currently working with hospitality specialists Keith Prowse to replace the single-level corporate marquees in its existing grounds with two-tier structures.

Read this: The business of Wimbledon: Brand and Media.