Organisers of a legends’ tennis tournament coming to the Capital this summer are expecting the contest to become a permanent annual fixture.
The four-day Brodies Champions of Tennis competition will make its city debut in Stockbridge in June, with former world number one John McEnroe already signed up.
The ATP Champions Tour event being held at Edinburgh Academicals’ home ground will bring together some of the most successful players in tennis history, with the next major signing expected to be announced next week.
Tournament director Viki Mendelssohn revealed the intention was to return to Stockbridge for a further two years, with plans to roll it out indefinitely if it proves successful. She said: “Stockbridge as a community is a great place and the venue itself that we’re at is obviously where we want to be. It gives everybody easy access to transport routes.
“We will assess going forward what happens with the ground’s development and our timings, but there’s no reason why we’d want to move it, assuming everything goes well this year.
“We’re in our infancy, but all the partners and all the signs show that it’s the best place to have this event.”
A temporary 2500-seater stadium will be built at Raeburn Place to host players and spectators after previous plans to hold the tournament at Inverleith Park were ruled out over flooding issues.
Six-time grand slam semi-finalist Tim Henman has been billed as a potential drawcard.
Most of the top ten on the Champions Tour have been approached about taking part, with legends Pat Cash, Mats Wilander and Boris Becker all in the running.
McEnroe, a contender for the inaugural title, has not visited Edinburgh since 1989 when he played in a tournament at Craiglockhart.
The June 20-23 tournament will finish a day before the start of Wimbledon, with organisers keen to leverage off the interest surrounding Britain’s grand slam event. Tickets for the Edinburgh tournament went on sale yesterday.
Ms Mendelssohn said: “The other players who we will be announcing over the coming weeks are also of a similar global recognition standard.
“Tennis in general is having a real resurgence in Scotland over the last couple of years. Not many people can get access to Wimbledon tickets unless they’re members of tennis clubs, but I don’t think anyone can deny the Andy Murray effect has been huge.
“There hasn’t been a major tennis event here for 25 years and I saw an opportunity.”
The tournament has been backed by the Stockbridge/Inverleith Community Council, with chairman Stephen Brennan saying anything that attracted visitors to the area would be “very welcome”.
EventScotland and Edinburgh City Council are contributing £100,000 to staging the event.
City festivals and events champion Councillor Steve Cardownie said: “Brodies Champions of Tennis is yet another spectacular addition to Edinburgh’s packed events calendar and, judging by the response to the event so far, it looks set to become a regular fixture for some years to come.
“It’s been 24 years since John McEnroe last played in Edinburgh and I’m thoroughly looking forward to seeing him and the other legends in action.”