Rod Laver Arena
The Tennis Centre
Rod Laver Arena at a night session of the 2023 Australian Open
Full nameRod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park
Former namesNational Tennis Centre at Flinders Park (1988–1996)
Centre Court (1996–2000)
Address200 Batman Ave
Melbourne VIC 3004
LocationMelbourne Park
Coordinates37°49′18″S 144°58′42″E / 37.82167°S 144.97833°E / -37.82167; 144.97833
OwnerGovernment of Victoria
OperatorMelbourne and Olympic Park Trust
Record attendance16,183 – Justin Timberlake, 18 November 2007
SurfaceGreenSet (tennis)
Hardwood (basketball)
Broke ground1985
Opened11 January 1988 (1988-01-11)
Construction costA$94 million (Original)
($305 million in 2022 dollars[1])
$23 million (1996 renovations)
($45 million in 2022 dollars[1])
Main contractorsLendlease (formerly Civil & Civic)
Venue Website

Rod Laver Arena is a multipurpose arena located within Melbourne Park, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The arena is the main venue for the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of the calendar year.


Rod Laver Arena entrance in 2023.
Rod Laver Arena entrance in 2023.
Rod Laver Arena
Interior of arena during the 2020 Australian Open

Replacing the ageing Kooyong Stadium, construction on the arena began in 1985.[3] It was undertaken by Civil & Civic[4] and was completed in 1987 at a cost of AU$94 million.[5] It opened on 11 January 1988 for the 1988 Australian Open.[6]

Originally known in 1988 as the National Tennis Centre at Flinders Park,[7] the arena has officially changed its name twice. First in 1996, when it was known as the Centre Court, and again on 16 January 2000 to honour Rod Laver, a three-time winner of the Australian Open and one of the world's greatest tennis players.[8][9]


Rod Laver Arena has a seating capacity of 14,820, with a capacity of 15,400 for sports such as basketball, when extra seats are added around the court, and up to 14,200 for concerts with floor seating.[10] The arena currently attracts over 1.5 million visitors per year.

The arena was the first tennis venue in the world and the first arena of any kind in Australia to have a retractable roof installed. The idea for such a roof came about at the suggestion of John Cain, the premier of Victoria around 1980, who came up with the compromise idea after Tennis Australia requested the government to build an open-air tennis facility next to a preexisting government project to build a closed-roof entertainment centre.[11]

The Rod Laver Arena is the largest indoor arena in Australia without a permanent roof (not counting the 56,347 seat Docklands Stadium, also in Melbourne, which is classed as a stadium rather than an arena). It is also the second largest indoor arena in Australia behind the 21,032 capacity Sydney Super Dome. The arena's retractable roof allows competitors to continue play during rain or extreme heat.

Rod Laver Arena is equipped with the Hawk-Eye Live line-calling system which has been used in place of line judges since the 2021 Australian Open.

Sports and events

Rod Laver Arena is the focal point of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, and besides tennis, the arena has hosted basketball, motorbike super-crosses, music concerts, conferences, World Wrestling Entertainment events and ballet. Other than for tennis, during sporting events or concerts, a section of the southern lower seating bowl is retracted to allow space for a stage or special floor level seating.


Rod Laver Arena acts as the centre court for the Australian Open tennis championships every year. The player after whom the arena is named, Rod Laver, is a frequent guest of honour at Championships and has presented the trophy to the men's singles champion on several occasions. Laver is widely considered the best player of his generation and amongst the best players of all time.[a]

Rod Laver Arena was the scene for Australia's famous Davis Cup victories in 2003. The arena hosted the semi-final and Final, at which Australia was successful in recording their 28th Davis Cup title.


Aside from tennis, the sport most often held at Rod Laver Arena in the past was basketball. The arena's first basketball game was in 1991 when the Australian Boomers played host to a touring All-Star team headlined by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, with over 15,000 in attendance.

On 3 April 1992, the arena became the home of Melbourne basketball when the Melbourne Tigers (now known as Melbourne United) defeated the Canberra Cannons 112–104. The venue was actually criticised in its early days as a basketball venue due to the poor quality of the backboards and rings used. However, these concerns were quickly addressed and the arena became known as one of the best in the country, especially with anywhere near a full house in attendance. The arena was also home to the South East Melbourne Magic (later renamed the Victoria Titans in 1998 after merging with the North Melbourne Giants) with both teams attracting some of the largest crowds in the history of the NBL. Rod Laver Arena was also the site of the first ever "outdoor" pro basketball game in Australia when the Magic hosted the Adelaide 36ers on 31 December 1997 with the roof open.

The largest basketball crowd at Rod Laver Arena was set in 1996 when 15,366 attended a local derby game between the Magic and Tigers. This remains the second largest NBL basketball attendance ever in Australia behind the 17,803 who attended a game between the Sydney Kings and West Sydney Razorbacks at the Sydney Super Dome in 1999. Game two of the 1996 NBL Grand Final series, also between the Magic and Tigers, saw the NBL's largest ever single game Grand Final crowd when 15,064 watched the Magic defeat the Tigers 88–84.[21]

1992 saw the first time two teams from the one city had reached the NBL Grand Final series when the Magic faced fellow Melbourne Park tenants the Tigers. With all games being played at the league's largest venue a record aggregate of 43,605 (average 14,535) fans saw the Magic win their first championship two games to one, coming back to win games two and three 115–93 and 95–88 after losing game one 98–116.

In all, Rod Laver Arena hosted 287 NBL games including NBL Championship deciders in 1992, 1996, 1997 and 1999, and played host to its last game in April 2000 before Melbourne Arena opened in 2000 and became the new home of basketball in Melbourne. The arena hosted the Australian Boomers on numerous occasions, including playing against the Magic Johnson All-Stars in 1995, as well as hosting the 1997 FIBA Under-22 World Championship, which Australia won for the first time.[22][23] The arena also played host to the 1993 NBL All-Star Game with the NBL Stars defeating the Boomers 124–119.

Day match at the 2023 Australian Open
Day match at the 2023 Australian Open

On 15 August 2015, Rod Laver Arena played host to the opening game of the 2015 FIBA Men's Oceania Basketball Championship between the Australian Boomers and the New Zealand Tall Blacks. In front of 15,062 fans Australia ran out 71–59 winners.[24]


Rod Laver Arena was the focal point of the 12th FINA World Aquatics Championships, which were held from 17 March to 1 April 2007. A temporary swimming pool, named the Susie O'Neill Pool after Australian swimming champion Susie O'Neill, was built at significant cost.

Commonwealth Games

Rod Laver was the host venue for the gymnastics competition at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Other sports

The venue has hosted professional wrestling events such as World Wrestling Entertainment, World Championship Wrestling, World Wrestling All-Stars and World Cup skateboarding.[25][26] In July 2012, the venue hosted its first netball match, when the Melbourne Vixens were forced to move a home semi-final to the arena after their usual home venue was booked for a concert.[27] On 10 February 2019, the venue hosted UFC 234: Adesanya vs. Silva.[28] On September 23 and 24, 2023, the arena hosted National Hockey League (NHL) pre-season ice hockey when the Arizona Coyotes faced the Los Angeles Kings.


Rod Laver Arena was one of the host venues, along with Margaret Court Arena and Melbourne Arena, for the second Melbourne Esports Open on the weekend of 31 August to 1 September 2019. It featured three major regional esports tournaments across League of Legends, Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege.[29][30]


See also: Entertainment events at Rod Laver Arena

Rod Laver Arena consistently hosts Melbourne's highest-profile musical and entertainment concerts. In 2009, the arena polled 9th out of 50 worldwide top arenas for first-quarter ticket sales, making it the second highest ticket selling venue in Australia, second to Sydney's Qudos Bank Arena, which placed third. In 2012, the arena became Australia's highest selling venue and 4th in the world, based on 2011 ticket sales.[31]

Rod Laver Arena's record attendance of 16,183 was set on 18 November 2007 for a Justin Timberlake concert during his FutureSex/LoveShow tour.[32]

American rock singer P!nk performed a record-breaking 18 concerts at the venue in the winter of 2013 with her Truth About Love Tour, beating her own record of 17 shows from the Funhouse Tour in 2009.[33] She is currently the artist who holds the record for most shows at the venue, with 53 shows.

American singer Billie Eilish performed 4 shows on her Happier Than Ever, The World Tour at the Rod Laver Arena. Eilish performed at the Rod Laver Arena from 22 September 2022 to 24 September 2022, and again on 26 September 2022.

A panoramic view of Rod Laver Arena during a day session at the 2020 Australian Open
A panoramic view of Rod Laver Arena during a day session at the 2020 Australian Open

Tennis surface

Interior of Rod Laver Arena with the original Rebound Ace surface

From 1988 until 2007, the surface of the court at the Australian Open and on Rod Laver Arena was Rebound Ace, which was coloured green and played slowly. The surface was also blamed for many injuries in the Australian Open, with many players claiming that the surface became sticky in hot weather, making it difficult to play on.

In 2008, the surface was changed to Plexicushion, and coloured blue. The surface is similar in properties to DecoTurf, the surface used in the US Open. This has more cushioning and more give than Rebound Ace. In 2019 the surface was changed again to Greenset, though retained its blue appearance and similarities to the Plexicushion.

It has also had a temporary grass court in use, during the 1993 Davis Cup quarterfinals, 2001 Davis Cup final and the 2003 Davis Cup final.


A view of the redeveloped Rod Laver Arena in January 2020.

In June 2015, it was announced that the arena would undergo a redevelopment of its exterior facade and interior customer features, such as bars and other facilities. The refurbishment constituted the main aspect of the $338 million second stage of redevelopments that occurred at the Melbourne Park precinct, which included a new pedestrian bridge linking Melbourne Park and Birrarung Marr and a new media and administration centre.[34][35] Construction began in April 2016.[34]

The refurbishment included a new eastern-facing primary entrance, an expanded public concourse space and other amenities designed to "open up" the arena and provide enhanced facilities and entry points for spectators.[36] A new four-level Player Pod was constructed which increased the space for training, treatment, recovery, dining and lounging for athletes at major tournaments such as the Australian Open.[37] In addition, the venue's roof was upgraded to allow for it to be closed for inclement weather in five minutes, dropping from the 30 minutes it took beforehand.[38][39] The refurbishment was completed in late December 2018.[40]


Record attendances




See also



  1. ^ a b AU = 1850-1901: McLean, I.W. (1999), Consumer Prices and Expenditure Patterns in Australia 1850–1914. Australian Economic History Review, 39: 1-28 (taken W6 series from Table A1, which represents the average inflation in all of Australian colonies). For later years, calculated using the pre-decimal inflation calculator provided by the Reserve Bank of Australia for each year, input: £94 8s (94.40 Australian pounds in decimal values), start year: 1901.
  2. ^ "History". Rod Laver Arena. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  3. ^ "Tennis". Melbourne & Olympic Parks. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Some Post-War Sports Buildings" (PDF). Stuart Harrison. Retrieved 28 October 2022.
  5. ^ National Tennis Centre Trust and Zoological Board of Victoria (Report) (20 ed.). L.V. North. April 1993. p. 5. ISBN 0730634353.
  6. ^ Colebatch, Tim (12 January 1988). "Melbourne's state-of-the-art tennis centre is a knockout". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  7. ^ Sources for original venue name:
  8. ^ "Centre court named after Laver". New Straits Times. Kuala Lumpur]. 22 December 1999. p. 43. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  9. ^ "History – Rod Laver Arena". Rod Laver Arena. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  10. ^ Brandie, Lars (13 May 2013). "Pink's Australian Arena Tour Grows to 45 Shows". Billboard. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  11. ^ Feinstein, John (1991). Hard Courts.
  12. ^ "Rod Laver – Top 10 Men's Tennis Players of All Time". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on 18 September 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  13. ^ "Bud Collins on MSNBC (2006)". MSNBC. 28 August 2006. Archived from the original on 15 October 2006. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  14. ^ Alistair Campbell and others on Times Online (2004)
  15. ^ Bruce Jenkins (13 September 2006). "Bruce Jenkins in San Francisco Chronicle (2006)". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  16. ^ Miller, David (15 January 2007). "David Miller in Daily Telegraph (2007)". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Retrieved 6 July 2009.[dead link]
  17. ^ IMG Media (30 January 2008). "The Tennis Week Interview: Tony Trabert". Archived from the original on 22 February 2021. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  18. ^ "John Barrett and Peter Burwash (2004)". 1 August 2004. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  19. ^ "Ray Bowers on Tennis Server (2000)". 23 December 2000. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  20. ^ IMG Media. "Raymond Lee: The greatest tennis player of all time. A statistical Analysis, on Tennis week, 14 September 2007". Archived from the original on 28 June 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  21. ^ [1] Archived 29 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ illusiv13 (22 January 2015). "1995 Australian Boomers vs Magic Johnson's All Stars – Melbourne". Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 17 March 2018 – via YouTube.
  23. ^ nblbball (16 July 2008). "OZ97 semi final australia vs argentina". Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 17 March 2018 – via YouTube.
  24. ^ "FIBA Oceania Championship 2015". Archived from the original on 31 August 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  25. ^ "Globe World Cup Skateboarding". World Cup Skateboarding. 17 February 2002. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  26. ^ Paul Daffey (13 February 2005). "Thousands thrilled by half-pipe heroes". The Age.
  27. ^ "Vixens home, but playing next door". Herald Sun. 6 July 2012.
  28. ^ Walker, Anthony (10 February 2019). "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of UFC 234". Sherdog. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  29. ^ Andrew Amos (2 September 2019). "Meet Australia's New Esports Champions". Kotaku. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  30. ^ Alex Manisier (5 September 2019). "Melbourne Esports Open is what video games in Australia need". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  31. ^ "World's busiest arenas". PlaceNorthWest. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  32. ^ "Records & Performers – Rod Laver Arena". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  33. ^ Brandle, Lars (27 May 2013). "Pink's Australia Tour Breaks Melbourne Venue Record". Billboard. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  34. ^ a b "Demolition Works Begin at Rod Laver Arena". Premier of Victoria. 5 April 2016.
  35. ^ "Rod Laver Arena plans unveiled". SBS. 2 June 2015.
  36. ^ "Rod Laver Arena". Development Victoria. 29 November 2019.
  37. ^ "AO showcases world's best player facilities". 8 October 2018.
  38. ^ "Tennis players and fans at the @AustralianOpen will no longer be forced to wait half an hour for @RodLaverArena's roof to close. @DougalBeatty #9News". Nine News Melbourne. Twitter. 22 December 2018.
  39. ^ "Greased lightning – Rod Laver Arena's new retractable roof". Sport and Recreation Victoria. 20 December 2018.
  40. ^ "New facilities completed at Melborune's Rod Laver Arena". Australasian Leisure Management. 18 December 2018.