SBD/August 27, 2012/Facilities

USTA Says U.S. Open Will One Day Get Roof, But Still No Timetable Or Cost

The USTA said a roof for Arthur Ashe Stadium would likely cost nine figures
USTA officials said that both the 23,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium and reconstructed Louis Armstrong Stadium “would one day have covers -- though they provided no timetable,” according to Douglas Robson of USA TODAY. USTA Exec Dir & COO Gordon Smith said that "span and size but mostly poor soil conditions, meant 15-year-old Ashe could not support the added weight of a roof.” But he added that parts of the upper deck “could someday be replaced with lighter-weight materials.” Officials said that plans to rebuild Louis Armstrong Stadium, “which might not be complete until 2018, would likewise be ‘roof ready.’” Smith said, “When the roof design becomes feasible, it will be put into the plan” (USA TODAY, 8/27). In N.Y., Marc Berman notes rain has “been part of the Open the past four years ... forcing the men’s final to Monday instead of Sunday.” USTA President & Chair Jon Vegosen said, “We want a roof, we’re going to have one one day. I can’t tell you when.” USTA officials said it will likely cost them “nine figures.” But they would not "pinpoint the year and admitted a model has not been chosen” (N.Y. POST, 8/27). Smith said, “The amount of money we’ve lost by not having a roof and the amount of money we might make by adding a roof is negligible compared to the cost of adding a roof” (AP, 8/26).

: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Daniel Kaplan writes the USTA "has suffered withering criticism" for not having a roof in place. When the group announced in June “a half-billion-dollar redevelopment plan that did not include adding a roof, the media focused on what the effort did not have rather than what it did.” The USTA “plans to press on with its redevelopment plan while it studies the roof option.” In addition to the “engineering obstacles posed by a roof, the USTA must overcome organizational obstacles that have put such a project on hold in the past.” Under the proposal, the shell of Arthur Ashe Stadium’s upper bowl “would remain, but the seats, and the concrete that attaches them to the shell, would come out.” The seats and attached materials account for “about 40 to 50 percent of the upper bowl’s weight.” The idea behind the current proposal “is that the lighter-weight replacement seats, plus a roof, would weigh the same as the portion of the stadium that would be replaced.” Vegosen and Smith “declined to say if a decision is near, saying only that the technological progress in the area is rapid and had speeded the possibilities greatly.” No cost estimates have been released (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/27 issue).
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