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Renovation of Roland Garros blocked by Paris tribunal

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Associated Press
3/1/2013 6:45:44 PM
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PARIS -- The planned renovation of Roland Garros is on hold after a Paris tribunal on Friday sided with local residents who complained the development could harm the environment.

The home of the French Open is undergoing an expansion that was scheduled to be completed in 2017, with plans including a retractable roof over the centre court.

However, the Administrative Court of Paris ordered the plans to be stopped, ruling in favour of three local associations who had expressed concern about the impact on the environment, especially a nearby botanical garden. The tribunal said the French Tennis Federation had failed to adequately address those concerns and that the fee it was set to pay the city was too low.

The federation, whose plans were approved by city authorities two years ago, said it noted the decision "with astonishment" and would appeal.

The tribunal ordered local authorities to cancel its agreement with the federation within two months.

In a statement on its website, the FTF said it remained determined to carry out the modernization of Roland Garros, calling it "vital for the sustainability" of the French Open.

The plans for Roland Garros have been controversial from the start, after the federation voted in February 2011 to keep the French Open there and renovate the existing site, rather than moving the tournament elsewhere. Before the start of that year's tournament, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe publicly dismissed concerns that the project -- estimated to cost about $390 million -- would damage the botanical garden, saying it "will not destroy one single plant or one single flower."

Roland Garros is the smallest of the four Grand Slam venues that also include the Australian Open at Melbourne, the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows in New York and London's traditional grass-court event at Wimbledon.

Roland Garros Centre Court (Photo: JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)

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(Photo: JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)
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