Updated Thursday, August 15
Tennis fans may no longer have to suffer when it rains during the U.S. Open.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) officially announced on Thursday that it will construct a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium, the central court in the Grand Slam tournament, as a part of sweeping $550 million renovation of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“We have been working toward a viable design for a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium for more than a decade,” said Dave Haggerty, president and chair of the USTA. “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.”
In the past, fans and players expressed concern about a roof at the U.S. Open to put an end to rain interruptions. With the retractable roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium, all four Glam Slam tournaments will have at least one covered court or plans to build one.
The renovations will be completed by the 2018 U.S. Open and will also include two new stadiums, a viewing plaza for practice courts and southern relocation of courts. This will allow the tennis center to hold 10,000 more people daily during the Grand Slam. The USTA will pay for the construction through bonds and “revenue generation.”
The roof itself is expected to cost $100 million and should be ready by 2017. The roof is being designed by Rossetti, the architect of Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Construction will begin after this year’s U.S. Open in three phases. The first is to shift the existing practice courts and two tournament courts to the north and expand the viewing area near the practice courts. The viewing plaza near the practice courts will allow fans to view players as they warm up and train.
In phase two the new 8,000-seat Grandstand Stadium will be built in the southwest quadrant of the tennis center in time for the 2015 U.S. Open. In the final phase, a new 15,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium will be constructed, “roof-ready,” by 2018 U.S. Open. The USTA also plans to redesign the walkways around the center to make strolling around the area easier for fans.
“We recognize there are many known, and certainly many unknown, hurdles we will have to confront to meet this schedule,” said Gordon Smith, USTA executive director. “We are ready for the challenge and hope we can achieve it.”
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