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USTA Unveils Massive U.S. Open Overhaul Plan

By Smriti Rao | June 15, 2012 7:32pm
Revamped tennis courts may accommodate an extra 10,000 visitors a day at the US Open.
Revamped tennis courts may accommodate an extra 10,000 visitors a day at the US Open.
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FLUSHING—When it comes to tennis, size does matter. And the world’s highest-attended sporting event, the U.S. Open, is all set to become even bigger.

Tennis fans making a beeline to the New York City event in the coming years will have access to not just two new stadiums, but increased parking spots and a spanking new walkway, according to new details in an overhaul plan that was revealed by the United States Tennis Association, the national governing body for the sport.  

This means 10,000 extra visitors can be welcomed each day, adding up to a whopping 100,000 new visitors throughout the duration of the U.S. Open, the USTA said. 

The U.S. Open already draws more than 700,000 visitors to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens each year.

The project, expected to rack up a bill running into “hundreds of millions of dollars” will get underway sometime next year and the new facilities are expected to welcome tennis fans by 2020 or 2021, organizers said.

“This is about work all around the facility to make it a best-in-class-facility,” said USTA CEO Gordon Smith. “We hope to keep up with the French Open, the Australian Open, Wimbledon as a world-class event.”  

First up, the half century-old Louis Armstrong Stadium (the number 2 court) will be torn down and an expanded facility will be built on the same ground. 

The stadium, which was first constructed as the Singer Bowl for the 1964-65 World’s Fair, currently seats 10,000 people. After the revamp, an extra 5,000 can be seated at the same place. New shops, a media and administration space, plus extra restrooms, have been all planned for this area.

The 6,000-seat Grandstand adjacent to the Number 2 court will also be revamped to accommodate 2,000 more tennis fans. 

Seven tournament courts that are on the southernmost part of the property will be moved over 30 to 50 feet and a new walkway will be built so visitors can easily access this part of the site.

With all the extra visitors, there will be a need for more parking spaces, so the USTA plans to build two new garages that will be constructed over existing parking lots. 

However, the new expansion design does not include anything about building a new roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium. The last four finals of the U.S. Open were delayed because of rain, Newsday pointed out.

USTA CEO Gordon Smith told the paper that no roof designs were being considered at this point and added that building a top over the 23,000 seat stadium would be “phenomenally expensive.”