SBD/Issue 1/Facilities & Venues

Arthur Ashe Stadium Roof May Not Make Financial Sense For USTA

A Retractable Roof At Arthur Ashe Stadium
Could Cost More Than $100M
USTA officials said that a retractable roof for Arthur Ashe Stadium "may not be financially sensible" because it "costs too much and won't be used enough," according to Andy McCullough of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. USTA Exec Dir & COO Gordon Smith: "The question is, are you going to spend $100[M] or more, we don't know exactly, on a roof that you might use once a year -- which would be the average? Or is the money better spent promoting the game that we have been promoting so successfully?" Smith added that "as a non-profit organization, the USTA must concentrate its resources to focus on how to 'grow and develop the game of tennis.'" Still, Smith said that the USTA "at the very least ... will consider the prospect of erecting a roof and how it affects long-term budget planning." Smith: "We have gone past the consideration stage of are we going to at least look at plans to actually developing plans, which at some point in the not-too-distant future will give us some idea of cost." U.S. Open Tournament Dir Jim Curley: "Would I love to have a roof? Absolutely. But it is certainly one of those situations where you have to really look at the practical aspects" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 9/13). Smith said that K.C.-based 360 Architecture "has been employed to study a roof plan." But on Long Island, John Jeansonne noted Smith and Curley "cited the fact that losing entire [U.S. Open] sessions to rain remains rare and that postponements cause major scheduling problems only late in the tournament" (NEWSDAY, 9/12).

COMPREHENSIVE STUDY: USTA officials Saturday said that the organization is "undertaking a comprehensive study on the feasibility of building a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium and expects to make a final decision next year." USTA Chair & President Lucy Garvin "commissioned a study this year of the entire Billie Jean King National Tennis Center" that includes "studies into whether a roof would be cost-effective; whether an additional smaller stadium could be added; and how much maintenance and renovation the stadiums would require over the next several years." Garvin: "I’d like to see us come to a final decision over the next several months as to what we’re going to do." USTA officials said that they have been given "estimates of more than $100[M] to add a roof." In N.Y., David Waldstein noted the USTA "must weigh the cost against its primary function as a nonprofit organization promoting tennis nationwide" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/13). Smith: "It will be some time before there's any decision made on whether or not to go forward with the roof. We would be looking at issues some years down the road, and the present economy has not slowed the process at all" (AP, 9/12).

INEVITABLE MOVE? CBS and ESPN tennis analyst John McEnroe said that he lobbied USTA officials "from the start to put a roof over massive Arthur Ashe Stadium when it was built to replace Louis Armstrong Stadium in 1997 as the tournament's main stage." McEnroe: "It seemed like a no-brainer but people at the USTA decided they wanted to build the biggest (stadium). But at the same price they could've had a slightly smaller stadium and had a roof" (REUTERS, 9/11). YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase wrote, "The traditionalist in me abhors the idea of playing a Grand Slam event indoors even if the practicality of not having to disappoint CBS and ticket holders (in that order) makes sense for the USTA to outlay those costs." Chase: "The roof is an inevitability and [the weekend's] cancellations will only hasten that process" (, 9/11).

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