Australian Open 2024: What is 1573? Chinese distillery takes over Melbourne Park

Summer after summer, at the court or sitting at home watching on TV, you become accustomed with the sponsors of the Australian Open.

However, there was a new sponsor in 2019, and it’s been around ever since and is back in 2024.  

What the blinkin’ hell is 1573, you’ve been asking?

Back in October 2018, tournament officials announced one of the biggest sponsorship deals in the Australian Open’s history, with Chinese Baijiu distillery Luzhou Laojiao becoming an associate sponsor of the tournament for the next five years.

They’ve even got their own court at Melbourne Park after Court 2 was officially renamed to ‘1573 Arena’ in 2019. 1573 logos are also prominent in signage around Court 3 as well. 

An uncovered court, 1573 Arena is one of the most popular sports to watch tennis at Melbourne Park and has some great views over the city. 

Considering the Australian Open is also billed as the Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific, it’s no surprise another major Asian brand wanted to buy into the biggest sporting event being held in the world right now.

But why 1573? What the hell is 1573?

Simple – the history of the distillery dates back to 1573 in the Ming dynasty, making it one of the oldest Chinese liquors still in production.

Ash Barty

At a function in Shanghai in October 2018, Tennis Australia’s chief revenue officer Richard Heaselgrave said the deal with Luzhou Laojiao was “one of the largest deals that Tennis Australia has ever negotiated” – but refused to disclose the value of the deal.

Reports suggested Tennis Australia officials were confident it was indeed the biggest sponsorship signing an Australian sporting body has confirmed with a Chinese business.

That’s saying something. Before the 2018 tournament, a new five-year contract – reportedly worth in excess of AU$85 million – was announced with Kia.

The other two associate partnerships, Rolex and ANZ, are respectively worth $10m and $7m annually.

According to a report by The Australian, the partnership with Luzhou Laojiao is the second phase of a long-term strategy Tennis Australia has in China.

Tennis Australia also hopes to bring more visitors from China to the tournament after the Australian Open experienced a rise of 48 per cent in foot traffic in 2018.

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