By the 2016rj team, city of Rio and Ri02016 sources
The city of Rio de Janeiro in July issued a tender for construction and operation of the Rio 2016 Games’s Tennis Center, comprising the Olympic Training Center (OTC) for high-performance athletes, the main event of the sporting legacy for the city and the country, and now is awaiting to receive bids from local and international builders for the US$ 77 million facility.
So far, all parties appear satisfied with the proposed center, to be located in Barra da Tijuca near the main Olympic events, which sports authorities hope will become a catalyst for the sport in Brazil, which only has spawned two Grand Slam event winners ever (Maria Esther Bueno and Gustavo Kuerten).
During a recent visit to Rio de Janeiro, International Tennis Federation (ITF) Executive Vice President Juan Margets said that the sport, and above all the athletes, have much to gain from holding the competition at the Barra Olympic Park.
He also noted that the tournament in Rio will be very different from the one held at the 2012 London Games, which took place on the famous lawns of Wimbledon, the oldest and most prestigious venue in world tennis.
“We are very enthusiastic. The most important thing is that we are sure the athletes are very excited because the sport will be in the heart of the Games (in the Barra da Tijuca region) in 2016. The proximity to the Olympic Village is another positive point to integrate and share experiences,” said Margets.
“Anyone who looks at the history of tennis knows that South America has performed, and is performing, an important role in our sport. We must not forget some major players such as Maria (Esther) Bueno and Gabriela Sabatini, among others. We hope the 2016 Games will be a catalyst for Brazilian tennis,” he said, noting that elite tournaments, such as the opening of the ATP 500 in 2014, are already coming to Rio de Janeiro.
For the OTC project, the Federal Government will transfer R$ 182.7 million (US$ 77 million at today’s exchange rate) to the municipality for works and services as part of a technical cooperation agreement signed between the Ministry of Sport and the City in May 2012.
The tender protocol involves not only the construction, but also the operation of the venue until May 2017, eight months after the Paralympic Games. The proposal to ensure the operation of the arena was presented by the Sports Ministry, which has been working closely with the City Hall.
The use of the arena during and after the Games is also included in the tender protocol. The Tennis Center will consist of eight permanent courts and eight temporary ones. The decision to build temporary structures was aimed at optimizing the cost-benefit, since these tennis courts would be of limited use after the Games — but would require future spending for maintenance, which is a relevant part of the cost of a sport facility.
The Tennis Center will have a permanent main court, with 10,000 seats, a temporary one, with 5,000 seats, and another one with 3,000 seats, which will remain in place, but without the grandstands after the Games. There will also be 13 outdoor courts, seven of them with 250 seats each (six permanent). Others will serve for training and warming up purposes.
The complex will host the tennis competition during the Olympic Games and the wheelchair tennis and 5-a-side football competitions during the Paralympic Games. After 2016, the main court and seven others will be part of the OTC and will also be available to host international tennis matches.
There are three main criteria for the construction and maintenance of the Tennis Center: economy, simplicity and practicality. These concepts – applied in all sports facilities of the Olympic Park – guided many decisions, such as the choice to rent equipment, instead of buying it.
One of the most important measures to reduce costs is to standardize the materials to be used in the Tennis Center and three other facilities (Aquatic Center, Handball Arena and Velodrome). Among them are technology items, such as scoreboards. The idea is rent everything that is not absolutely necessary to buy or that will become technologically outdated.
Some items that will be leased are foreseen in the tender, such as the temporary tennis court’s grandstands and elevators. The rest of the rental items are the so-called complementary facilities (eg: scoreboards, screens, generators, air-conditioning, temporary toilets, furniture and computers), which will be provided by the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee.
Regarding the Tennis Center, the consortium “2016 – Especialistas em Eventos Esportivos,” formed by GMP Design e Projetos do Brasil Ltda., SBP do Brasil Projetos Ltda., LUMENS Engenharia Ltda., and Sustentech Desenvolvimento Sustentável Ltda, won the tender for the development of the basic and executive projects. The preliminary studies were done by AECOM, winner of the international contest that chose the company responsible for the Master Plan of the Olympic Park in August 2011.
Besides the Tennis Center, the Aquatic Center, the Handball Arena and the Velodrome will be built through a cooperation agreement between the Federal Government and the Municipality. The permanent arenas are LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which aims to promote the sustainability of buildings, reducing impacts on the environment.