BY LUIS GRONDA
Rain delays will soon be a thing of the past at the U.S. Open.
Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong Stadiums will have retractable roofs built above both venues by the 2018 edition of the tennis tournament, the United States Tennis Association announced last week.
The roofs will address weather issues the tournament has dealt with in recent years, USTA officials said at a press conference unveiling the news. Rain delays have postponed several games during the tennis competition, including multiple championship matches for both the men’s and women’s finals.
“Through a long and arduous process, we feel that we now have a design that meets the criteria of being architecturally sound, aesthetically pleasing, reasonably affordable, and buildable,” said Dave Haggerty, USTA Chairman of the Board.
Adding the roofs is part of an overhaul project the USTA has in mind for the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. which includes building brand-new versions of the Louie Armstrong and Grandstand stadiums and moving the Grandstand to the southwest corner of the tennis center, which it acquired after the City Council approved its expansion earlier this year. The total cost for the transformation will be about $550 million, including the two retractable roofs, which will cost more than $100 million, according to the USTA.
The USTA will pay for the project itself, using a combination of revenue it has made from the U.S. Open and bonds, according to a press release issued by the USTA.
For several months, USTA officials presented at several community board meetings, asking for their support of the expansion. Reaction among the public was mixed, with some supporting the USTA, in part, because of the jobs it has provided to local residents in the Borough. Opposers to the plan said that the USTA was taking away more parkland from Queens.
Ultimately, the City Council voted to allow the expansion in exchange for giving back more parkland to the Borough.
Although building the roofs have been discussed for several years, it was not mentioned when the USTA asked
for the extra land when speaking to the City and community members.
Megan Montalvo, the spokeswoman for Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (DEast Elmhurst), who led negotiations with the USTA, said that the deal agreed to between the City Council and the USTA and their roof project have nothing to do with each other. A USTA spokesperson said the roofs were part of the environmental study done while they proposed to acquire the extra land at the USTA site.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.