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US Open to undergo ground revamp


 

Originally published on: 16/11/10 14:07

The US Open landscape will look rather different when Rafael Nadal returns to defend his title next year, with a swathe of reconstruction projects set to take place to revitalise the Flushing Meadows site.

The most immediate change will be the addition of a new 3,000-seat mini-stadium, which could even be ready in time for the 2011 US Open. Following that there are plans to tear down the Louis Armstrong Stadium and the Grandstand Court, while a new 10,000-15,000 capacity Louis Armstrong Stadium will be built where the current Armstrong Stadium stands.

Among the changes, one notable absentee is the addition of a roof over the 22,547-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium, ruled out due to the cost and the fact the stadium’s foundations are built on a former ash dump, which could not support the added weight.

There will in fact be no roof built over any of the planned show courts, although SportsBusiness Journal reports that the new Louis Armstrong Stadium will be ‘roof-ready’ and the United States Tennis Association are still looking into engineering solutions for Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“We will continue over the next 10 years to research a roof over Arthur Ashe,” the USTA President Lucy Garvin told SportsBusiness Journal. “It remains technologically and financially challenging, but we are going to continue to research the technology that may allow for a roof.”

The USTA is concentrating on expanding its recreational player base and developing professional players rather than spending an estimated $150 million on a roof for the Arthur Ashe Stadium

While the men’s final has been played on a Monday for the past three years as a result of bad weather, the last time rain forced a Monday men’s final before 2008 was 1987, and before that in 1974.

On the flip side, there are fears that the US Open will fall behind the other Slams in terms of fan experience, with the Australian Open and Wimbledon already having a roof over their Centre Courts and the French Tennis Federation announcing plans to complete work on a retractable roof in time for the 2013 or 2014 French Open.

The new Armstrong Stadium, which will be designed with the later addition of a roof in mind, will not be built for another six to eight years as the USTA works out its financing for the reconstruction.

The plan in brief
•    The Louis Armstrong Stadium and Grandstand Court will both be torn down.
•    A new 10,000-15,000 Louis Armstrong Stadium will be built in place current Armstrong Stadium stands.
•    Also a new 3,000-seat mini stadium, designed to offer a more intimate view of matches, to be completed in 2011 or 2012, followed by another mini-stadium likely to be located where the current Grandstand Court stands.
•    Construction to begin to widen Arthur Ashe Stadium’s upper levels and add more restrooms and concession stands.

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