Hour-long lines on the way into the US Open
Tony Dorson has been coming to the U.S. Open for more than 25
years. He never had to wait so long to get to his seat as he did
Lines that snaked for a quarter mile or more – from the exit
point of the No. 7 train to the East entrance of the Billie Jean
King Tennis Center – made for delays of up to an hour to get inside
All a product of newly installed metal detectors the U.S. Tennis
Association is making all ticketholders pass through this year
before entering the grounds.
”Never seen it like this,” said Dorson, who was on hand for
the first session of the two-week event. ”People are frustrated.
For me, it’s worth it, because I love tennis.”
The USTA had already limited the size and number of bags fans
can bring into the tennis center. It had been considering adding
metal detectors even before the Boston Marathon in April, when
bombs killed three people near the finish line.
Tournament spokesman Chris Widmaier said the USTA now has what
it calls ”airport-type security,” with the metal detectors and
the use of wands to check spectators who set off the detectors.
Fans won’t need to take off shoes or belts.
Widmaier said fans have voiced their displeasure over the long
wait to get in Monday. He said the USTA would continue to ask fans
to prepare for delays while also trying to streamline the security
process. Gates were scheduled to open a half-hour earlier than
usual Tuesday – 9:30 a.m. EDT – for matches beginning at 11 a.m.
”Do I still think it will be somewhat delayed? Yes, I do,”
Widmaier said. ”But given what we saw this morning, we’re going to
learn from that and make the process more efficient.”
The U.S. Open will draw upward of 650,000 fans over the two
weeks, many of them watching from 23,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium,
the largest tennis stadium in the world.
With the lines stretching longer than he’d ever seen, John Sordi
took his daughter, Emma, for a walk around the park at Flushing
Meadows, then queued up again a little later after the crowd had
subsided. It took them about 20 minutes to get in. Sordi said
security workers were doing their best to let small children in
with less of a wait.
He said the merging of people flowing out of buses, the subway
and the Long Island Railroad station, which lets off near the
subway, made things confusing toward the back of the lines.
”You weren’t really sure where to go,” Sordi said. ”But we
figured it out. It’s OK with me. Just need to give yourself a
little extra time.”