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Heavy Security at US Open Forces Queens Museum to Close Again

By Katie Honan | August 28, 2017 2:09pm | Updated on August 28, 2017 3:57pm
 Two NYPD officers carrying machine guns stand in front of the Queens Museum on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, during the U.S. Open.
Two NYPD officers carrying machine guns stand in front of the Queens Museum on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, during the U.S. Open.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

CORONA —The Queens Museum will remain closed during the U.S. Open for the second year in a row, citing increased security for the tournament taking place just a few hundred feet from its building, DNAinfo New York has learned. 

The museum will be closed until Sept. 10 for the duration of the grand slam, officials confirmed.

The museum shuttered last year for the first time since the U.S. Open moved to the park in 1978, citing the large security presence, particularly around the new Grandstand Stadium that opened in 2016.

A spokeswoman for the Queens Museum confirmed the closure but did not comment further. After this article was first published, the museum updated its website to say it was closed throughout the tournament due to the "heightened security."

A spokesman for the city's Department of Cultural Affairs said the agency has been in close communication with the museum, which will use the time off to "prepare and install their fall exhibitions," which open Sept. 17.

Parking lots next to the museum are used for event parking and as a base camp for the NYPD, which has a large presence throughout the park during the tournament.

A spokesman for U.S. Tennis Association said it "made every effort" to make sure the Queens Museum would be able to stay open this year. 

The USTA met last year with museum officials, local politicians and representatives from the NYPD and Parks Department to "ensure they were afforded every opportunity" to remain open.

"The Queens Museum made a decision to close, in spite of these precautions and discussions," the USTA spokesman said in a statement. 

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who represents the area, said security surrounding the Open is "a top priority for our local authorities" as thousands of people flood through the stadium gates.

"I understand the inconvenience that this causes for the public and the institutions located at the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, but necessary precautions must be taken in order to avert potential tragedy," she wrote in a statement. 

"The U.S. Open, NYPD, Queens Museum, Queens Theatre are all equally important partners within our great park and we commend the NYPD and their counter-terrorism team for their proactive approach to safety."

The tournament, which officially began Aug. 22 with qualifying rounds, consumes much of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Grass fields are turned into parking lots, with prices going for at least $25 per spot. 

The Queens Night Market, held on Saturdays in the summer behind the New York Hall of Science, also shuts down during the U.S. Open as the space is used for more event parking.

The grand slam provides a major economic boost to the city — bringing in an estimated $700 million in 2015, marking more than a Super Bowl.

The USTA pays $400,000 per year in rent, plus 1 percent of net revenues, officials said. That brings in an estimated $3 million annually.

Around 7,000 temporary workers are hired throughout the tournament, with an estimated 40 to 45 percent of them living in Queens, according to Rob Mackay, director of public relations, marketing and tourism at the Queens Economic Development Corporation. 

But state Sen. Tony Avella, whose senate district is near the park and who opposed the USTA expansion, said he was disappointed to see affordable cultural places shut down for the pricey tournament.

Museum tickets are a suggested $8 for adults, $4 for seniors and free for kids 18 and under. New Yorkers can also get in free with an IDNYC card, with a student ID or if they're Department of Education employees. 

"The U.S. Open is an important event for the city and the country but that doesn't mean we should shut down other activities for New Yorkers or Queens residents," Avella said.

"You're cutting off a lot of middle-class families and working families, families that don't have a lot of money to go to activities on the weekend with their families."