ESPN Classic & ESPN360.com to Televise Live First Tennis Played Under Wimbledon’s Centre Court Roof
New Retractable Covering to be Tested May 17
On Sunday, May 17, ESPN Classic and broadband ESPN360.com will televise live A Centre Court Celebration, the first tennis to be played under the new retractable roof on Wimbledon’s famed Centre Court. The three-and-one-half-hour uninterrupted and continuous telecast will begin at 9:30 a.m. ET and will include four players:
- the husband and wife team of Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, who combined for eight Wimbledon singles titles (one and seven, respectively);
- Kim Clijsters, the former top-ranked player and 2005 US Open champ who recently announced she will return to play this summer after retiring in 2007;
- and Tim Henman, the Brit who thrilled and tantalized the local fans by reaching the Wimbledon semifinals and quarterfinals four times each before retiring in 2007.
The action will include a gentlemen’s singles match, a ladies’ singles match, and mixed doubles. All matches will be one set, with a tiebreaker.
The telecast will be produced by the BBC, with Andrew Castle and former notable British tennis player John Lloyd on the call.
Centre Court’s New Roof
Three years in the making, the new roof and air management system will be tested in front of a capacity crowd of 15,000. The old overhang roof on Centre Court was removed after Wimbledon in 2006. The 2007 tournament was played with no roof over the stands and the 2008 event was played with the new overhang in place and the retractable roof installed but not operable.
The new roof takes up to 10 minutes to close, unfolding from each end and meeting in the middle, and requires an additional 30 minutes for the internal environment to be stabilized before play may resume. Being translucent, the roof allows natural light onto the grass playing surface. In addition, the redesigned Centre Court now has an additional 1,500 seats, bringing capacity to 15,000.
ESPN & Wimbledon
ESPN networks have televised Wimbledon since 2003. ESPN2 and ESPN360.com will once again have two weeks of extensive live Wimbledon programming beginning Monday, June 22. This year, ESPN will televise all four of tennis’ Grand Slam events, something no network has ever done.
ESPN360.com is ESPN’s live sports broadband network, giving fans a 24/7 online destination that delivers more than 3,200 live, global sports events annually. It is available at no cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection from an affiliated service provider. ESPN360.com is currently available in nearly 25 million homes, up 40 percent in the past 12 months and more than triple its distribution just 2 years ago. It is available via approximately 45 Internet service providers nationwide, including AT&T, Verizon, RCN, Insight, Frontier, Cavalier, Charter, Mediacom, Conway, Grande Communications and many more. It is also available at no cost to approximately 18 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers connected to on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks (those with “.edu” and “.mil” domains).
Wimbledon’s New Centre Court Roof, By the Numbers
|8||Litres per second of fresh air per person pumped into the bowl to manage the environment|
|9||Chiller units required to cool the air|
|10||Minutes (maximum) that the roof takes to close|
|10||Trusses holding up the roof|
|16||Metres – height of the roof above the court surface|
|30||Minutes – maximum time expected before play can start/continue after the roof is closed and the internal environment is controlled and stabilised|
|43||Miles per hour – wind speed up to which the roof can be deployed/retracted|
|77||Metres – the span of the moving roof trusses (width of football pitch = 68m)|
|70||Tonnes – weight of each of the 10 trusses without extra parts|
|100||Tonnes – weight of each of the 10 trusses with all extras – eg motors, locking arms|
|100||Percent of the roof’s fabric which is recyclable|
|214||MM per second – maximum speed of truss deployment|
|1,200||Extra seats installed in 2008|
|3,000||Tonnes – combined weight (both fixed and moving) of the roof|
|5,200||Square metres, area of retractable roof when fully deployed|
|7,500||Wimbledon umbrellas, needed to cover the same area as the retractable roof|
|15,000||Maximum spectator capacity|
|143,000||Litres per second – total amount of conditioned air that the air-management system supplies to the bowl|
|290million||Tennis balls – number that could fit in the Centre Court with the roof closed|
Retractable Roof on Centre Court – how it works
- Type of folding fabric concertina, which allows the roof to be folded into a very compressed area when not in use.
- Fabric (Tenara) is a special waterproof structural material that is very strong, highly flexible and at 40% translucent is not transparent for players/spectators but will let in natural light. Around 5,200 square metres of fabric used.
- Key element of the design allows natural light to reach the grass – brought about by re-contouring the fixed roof
- An airflow system removes condensation from within the bowl to provide good court surface conditions conducive to the playing of tennis when the roof is closed.
- Roof is divided into two sections, with a total of nine bays of tensioned fabric – four bays in one section and five in the other. Each of the nine bays of tensioned fabric is clamped on either side to prismatic steel trusses. There are 10 trusses spanning approximately 77 metres across the court. Ends of each truss are supported by a set of bogies that move along parallel tracks positioned at either side within the new ‘fixed’ roof.
- In preparation for closing the roof, one section is parked in its folded state at the north end of the court while the other is parked at the south end.
- The coordinated electro mechanical movement moves the trusses apart and, at the same time, unfolds and stretches out the fabric between the trusses over the court until the two sections meet in an overlapping seam above the middle of the court.
- The arch shape to the tops of the trusses helps the structure to withstand their own dead weight and loading from elements such as snow and wind when the roof is stretched and closed over the court.
- The roof has been designed to close in a maximum of 10 minutes. If the roof is being closed for rain, court covers will protect the grass in the usual way while closure is in progress.
- After the roof has been closed, play can resume after a period of around 30 minutes, depending on climatic conditions.