SBD/August 15, 2013/Facilities

USTA To Build Roof Over Arthur Ashe Stadium That Could Be Ready For '16 U.S. Open

Arthur Ashe Stadium's roof would be five times larger than Wimbledon’s
The USTA "finally decided to build a retractable roof over gargantuan Arthur Ashe Stadium" and unveiled specific plans today, according to Filip Bondy of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. A USTA official has confirmed that the roof "will be part of a general $500 million overhaul of the National Tennis Center in Queens, a 'complete transformation,' likely to require even more funding." The roof "could theoretically be in place" for the '16 U.S. Open "if all goes well." Construction plans are "still incomplete" and "must be approved by city and state boards." However, approval for the roof "shouldn’t be as complicated or controversial as the proposal for a new soccer stadium nearby ... since it requires no additional parkland." The move "represents an urgently needed improvement for the Flushing Meadows facility." The last five U.S. Open men’s finals "have been rained out, and the tournament has been extended an extra day far too often" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/15). In DC, Liz Clarke reports the roof project is "expected to take at least three years to complete and will likely require the removal of some of the upper rows of seats." ESPN Senior Dir of Programming & Acquisitions Jason Bernstein "welcomed the scheduling clarity that a roof will provide." Bernstein said, "It absolutely helps ensure a speedy conclusion to the event and one we can promote with certainty for the future." Until yesterday’s announcement, any suggestion that a roof be built atop Ashe was "dismissed as too costly and, above all, an engineering impossibility given the weight it would add to an already massive structure constructed atop a landfill" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/15).

: In N.Y., Meyers & Zinser write the USTA "would probably like the roof to be in the first wave of its planned renovation, which could include a new Grandstand court" by '15. USTA officials have long said that they were "committed to adding a roof on Ashe once technology allowed it." They had "commissioned at least four roof studies" over the past decade. USTA officials have "emphasized that an Ashe roof would need to be five times larger than the one that spans Wimbledon’s Centre Court." Rossetti Architects is "designing the roof for Ashe Stadium." The U.S. Open was the "only Grand Slam event that did not have an existing roof or plans for one on at least one showcase court" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/15). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Chris Herring reports Rossetti already is "heading up a current renovation project that will add two new stadiums to a tennis center that boasts 12 indoor courts, 19 field courts, four clay bubbled courts and three stadium courts" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/15).
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