Save the Australian Open Membership Program

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The Australian Open shuts out members

This year, the Australian Open committee have decided to shut the door on its most loyal followers by cancelling the AO Membership program, formally known as “Game, Set, Match”. This lockout has put many fans in limbo after many years of supporting both the event and the tennis.

The membership program has been around for many years, and can be as much as $600 a member for the "Match" level membership package. This level of membership gives benefits like lounge entry and early access to ticketing. Many tennis fans, who are members like myself and my wife, are very passionate about tennis and although we all see this as a luxury, we look forward to it each year.

Tennis Australia have stated that they have made the decision to cancel the membership program on the back of “Member feedback”. This is concerning, as all members that I have spoken to have not been canvassed or given the chance to engage with TA and would never have suggested that the current members program is not working. It is our opinion that Tennis Australia have not spoken to any relevant members, if any members at all.

After having viewed the members over the past AO, it is fair to say that the majority of members are older, like myself, and that the message coming from Tennis Australia is very clear. They do not value or want older members to attend the Australian Open in the future. They are discriminating against us. We may not be corporates, who have large spending accounts and little interest in tennis, but each year the tennis tragic, like ourselves, spend thousands on supporting the Australian Open, Davis Cup and Federation Cup.

One of the significant benefits afforded to us through our now defunct membership program, was the members lounge. For years, this was located inside the venue for easy access. It was useful for getting out of the sun and having a rest between day and night sessions, as well as meeting and reconnecting with members each year over a beverage or dinner. A few years ago, it was extremely disappointing to find out that the AO had moved this lounge outside of the venue, to the Holden Centre. In response, attendances dropped inside the lounge and it suddenly became unusable to a group of elderly members. A friend, and one such member, who is in her nineties, has been attending the AO for many decades, but will find it difficult to attend going forward due to the removal of the membership program. She also attends the Grand Prix every year and reflects on the way that the Grand Prix organisation show her special consideration, given her age, to enable her to attend the GP each year. As a comparable major event in Melbourne, the sporting capital of Australia, let’s just take a second for that to sink in!

We are asking for support from the public because as loyal tennis fans and paid up members, we want answers and a commitment from Tennis Australia. What are they doing to replace our membership program and why have we been treated so poorly throughout this process?

Max Turner, Former Member, Victorian Parliament.

 



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