Rome's new tennis stadium breaks the mold

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It's not quite the Colosseum, but Rome's new tennis stadium is every bit as gladiatorial as its ancient counterpart. The 10,400-seat stadium is built nearly straight up in the air, putting fans directly on top of the action on the court.

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, Rafael Nadal said, "It's a fantastic stadium and different from others because the audience is so close to the court. I am also happy that the tournament has been in this beautiful location, in respect of a great tradition."

There are matching facades all around the stadium. The steel seats and white concourses give the place a metallic look that comes across well on television, even if empty steel seats are fairly conspicuous. For fans in the stadium, the sight lines are said to be top-notch. On TV, the angle of the cameras is a little higher than most, something that helps gives the coverage a different sort of feel. I wouldn't like it for every tournament, but breaking out of the cookie-cutter mold is never a bad thing.

The new arena was built for $38.4 million from funds via the Italian Olympic Committee on the site of the old stadium grounds. Next year, Rome plans to host its men's and women's event at the same time. To accommodate this, the tournament will switch places in the ATP schedule with Madrid and likely become more of a tune-up for the French Open.

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