SBD/January 24, 2011/Facilities

USTA Could Ask N.Y. For Financial Assistance To Improve U.S. Open Facilities

Arthur Ashe Stadium cannot support a roof due to soft ground underneath it
The U.S. Open is "losing ground to its rivals on the Grand Slam circuit and might request financial assistance" from the city of N.Y. "to improve its facilities," according to Tom Perrotta of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest stadium at the National Tennis Center, "can't support a roof because of the soft ground beneath it," and the USTA is "reluctant to build a roof over a smaller stadium, which wouldn't seat enough fans if rain interfered with the singles finals." Rossetti President Matthew Rossetti, whose firm designed Arthur Ashe Stadium, said its site is the "equivalent of Jell-O." Rossetti: "We've analyzed it dozens of times. Because of the soil's condition, (a roof) requires its own structure -- it wouldn't touch the stadium at all. Once you get into that, you're talking huge dollars." Estimates put the cost of a canopy roof at $175-225M. Perrotta notes the combination of "poor land quality and ambitious remodeling plans by the other Grand Slams in Melbourne, Paris and London has forced the USTA to consider asking New York City, which owns Flushing Meadows Park, for aid." The USTA said that "in dire circumstances," it would "contemplate moving to another venue, including outside New York." USTA Chair & President Jon Vegosen: "Our preference is to remain in New York. However, we are in a hyper-competitive marketplace, and to remain the No. 1 tennis event in the world, we will need significant investments in the tournament's infrastructure. The National Tennis Center is an aging facility, significant upgrades are needed, and we'll have to consider all options to maintain our position." The USTA "hasn't approached the city with any plans." Andrew Brent, a spokesperson for N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said the city's "budget issues are well-known," but the city will "work with the USTA to help it continue to thrive in New York" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/24).
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