The USTA yesterday debuted Court 17 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on the first day of the U.S. Open, welcoming a "quieter, gentler but still substantive new show court that has the makings for some great days and nights of tennis," according to Douglas Robson of USA TODAY. Richard Gasquet won the first match played on the new court and said, "It's good for the U.S. Open to have a new court like that. It's a good choice." For now, Court 17 seats 2,500 spectators, but will eventually "hold more than 3,000 when temporary metal bleachers surrounding the central sunken area are replaced by permanent ones in 2012." That will make it the tournament's "fourth-largest court." U.S. Open Managing Dir of Facility Operations Daniel Zausner said that Court 17 is "an 'intimate court' that will have even better sightlines next year with added seating." Zausner added that "officials homed in on the corner adjacent to the hospitality zone because it attracted less foot traffic in what is billed as the largest sporting event in the world." USTA officials said that a roof on Court 17 "never entered into the conversation since it's small and not centrally situated" (USA TODAY, 8/30).
GONE WITH THE WIND: Because of Hurricane Irene, banners of "past Open champions were not yet hung for the tournament's opening day." In addition, Louis Armstrong Stadium's "south scoreboard was dark" (NEWSDAY, 8/29).
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones' sales team "sold 700,000 tickets" last year for tours of Cowboys Stadium, and Jones is "not stopping there," according to Peter King of SI.com. Jones said, "Our goal is 2 million visitors in a year. This year we've got a good chance to have more people tour the stadium than actually attend our games. I think we'll hit 800,000 visitors." King noted although there is "only one stadium like this in the league," the Cowboys have turned their Arlington facility "into a destination spot." Jones "loves that the revenue-split among players and owners in the new CBA, which calls for players to get 55 percent of the TV revenue, allows owners to keep 60 percent of all locally generated revenue." Jones has "two sales teams working for the Cowboys now," one that sells tickets and one that sells "stadium tours from between $20 and $27 a pop, depending on when you want to be guided." King: "At an average of $23.50 a tour (my estimate), 800,000 tourists yields $18.8 million. Let's say you have a sales force of 20 working to bring them in, at an average salary of $60,000 per sales person. That's $17.6 million after the sales people's cut." But "whatever the number is, it supports his argument -- the one he's made for years -- that if teams try to make revenue locally, and really work at it, most of them can do better than they are." Jones said, "One of the reasons I built this stadium is so Al Michaels would talk about it on TV. And so people would want to come to see it. They want to see the big screen; the screen is the star of the show, the content on the screen" (SI.com, 8/29).
Vikings Owner Zygi Wilf and other team execs "are hoping a special session will be called in October" so the Minnesota legislature can approve a plan for a new stadium. But Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley said, "There is growing concern within our ownership, there is no doubt, about where this is headed and the fact that every year, we get to the end of the session and there's a different reason why (it didn't get done). ... If we don't get it done this fall, we get to February (and) we will be the only NFL team without a lease. The only one. There's already been knocks on our door about, 'Hey, we want to talk to you guys when your lease is up'" (1500ESPN.com, 8/29). Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said that he "would support letting Ramsey County voters weigh in on a proposed sales tax increase for a new Vikings stadium." But stadium backers "have been working on a plan that would not allow voters a say in building a Vikings stadium in Arden Hills" (AP, 8/29).
BIGGER IN TEXAS: In Ft. Worth, Stefan Stevenson reports TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium is getting an additional "face-lift." The school yesterday announced that the "ongoing $143 million renovations to the 81-year-old stadium will include the east side stands," and construction will begin after the TCU football team's regular-season finale Dec. 3. The first phase of the renovations began in November, and the entire project "is expected to be completed next summer, well before the Frogs host Grambling State on Sept. 8, 2012." The height of the east side upper deck "will be parallel to the speakers currently sitting on the light poles of the current design." Capacity for the new stadium "will be 43,000, with future expansion capabilities of more than 50,000" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 8/30).
BRIDGING THE GAP: In San Diego, Roger Showley notes yesterday's edition of the Architect's Newspaper included "an unsolicited plan by a pair of Australian architects, previously published, for a new Chargers stadium in downtown San Diego." The plan, by landscape architect David McCullough and San Diego-based Australians Pauly De Bartolo and Ivan Rimanic, "would create a park-like space bridging the blocks between Petco Park, the proposed stadium site in East Village and the San Diego Convention Center" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 8/30).
ALREADY GETTING THEIR MONEY'S WORTH: Either "MetLife," "MetLife Stadium" or "MetLife Trophy" were mentioned 10 times during NFL Network's broadcast of last night's Jets-Giants game at the newly christened stadium (“Jets-Giants,” NFL Network, 8/29).