The International Tennis Hall of Fame held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday on a $15.7 million expansion that will eventually add courts, improve its stadium and add some newer stars to its museum - possibly even a hologram of Roger Federer.
CEO Mark Stenning said officials hope the project will be mostly finished by June 2015. The work will include adding three new indoor/outdoor hard courts to the three indoor hard courts and 13 grass courts it already has. It will also add locker rooms and a fitness area.
The project will expand its six-acre site along Newport's famed Bellevue Avenue by one acre.
Stenning said the goal of the project is twofold: to increase the opportunities for recreation at the Hall of Fame, and to create a more attractive streetscape on Memorial Boulevard, where they are tearing down a building that houses three indoor courts to make way for a new one that fits aesthetically with the Newport Casino. The casino building and grounds were built in 1880 and designed by architects McKim, Mead & White, and are a National Historic Landmark.
The project will also make space for more recent stars in the Hall of Fame's museum, including Lindsay Davenport, who is being inducted this year. Davenport won the 1998 U.S. Open, 1999 Wimbledon, 2000 Australian Open and 1996 Olympic gold medal and three major doubles titles. She held the world's No. 1 ranking for 98 weeks in her career.
Stenning said they also plan to add new technology, touch screens and more child-friendly exhibits at the museum, which has not been updated for around 10 years. They're also considering a Federer hologram, he said.
Players who have not yet been inducted into the hall, such as Rafael Nadal, won't be included - yet.
"They won't be part of this exhibit, but it gives us space and room to look to the future," he said.
The enshrinement ceremony will be held July 12. The Hall of Fame Tennis Championships are played every July, but Stenning said there should be little effect on the tournament.