SBD/August 16, 2013/Facilities

USTA's $550M Overhaul Of National Tennis Center Includes Three Covered Courts

Officials hope to begin construction of the roof following this year's U.S. Open
USTA officials Thursday unveiled $550M worth of improvements to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, a project that will eventually yield "two new stadiums, up to three covered courts and -- at last -- a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium,” according to Wayne Coffey of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The project will “proceed in three phases, the first of them encompassing the construction of a new 8,000-seat Grandstand Court (in a new location on the southwest part of the grounds); a two-tiered deck overlooking five relocated practice courts; and, the centerpiece of it all, the retractable roof over Ashe -- one that will be made of 1.6 million pounds of Teflon-coated panels and supported by eight columns and 10 million pounds of steel.” The roof “will be undergirded … by 160 pilings, driven down as far as 200 feet.” It will be “able to close and open in five to seven minutes.” Officials “hope to commence with the project after this year’s Open, if the requisite approvals and reviews are complete.” The plan is for the roof to be “ready for the 2017 Open.” A new Louis Armstrong Stadium -- also with a roof and 15,000 seats -- is “part of the final phase of the project.” USTA Exec Dir & COO Gordon Smith said a third show-court roof on the Grandstand is “being thought about.” The transformation of the venue will “allow for better flow around the grounds” as an “additional 10,000 spectators per day will be possible with the new design” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/16).

UNDER PRESSURE
: In N.Y., Naila-Jean Meyers notes the U.S. Open was the only Grand Slam event that “did not have at least one showcase court with a roof, or plans for one.” Smith said that the USTA “felt competitive pressure to improve facilities not only from the other Grand Slam events but also from local sports teams, which are all playing in new or recently renovated stadiums and arenas.” USTA officials had long said that they were “committed to adding a roof on Ashe as soon as they could figure out how, but a roof was not initially in the renovation project when it was announced last year.” National Tennis Center COO Danny Zausner said that if the plans “received the necessary approvals from various city agencies, construction of the Ashe roof could begin as early as next spring” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/16).
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