USTA plans massive makeover for US Open facilities

The U.S. Tennis Association plans to give the home of the U.S.

Open a makeover that will cost it hundreds of millions of dollars,

but does not include putting a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The USTA unveiled its plan Thursday to upgrade the Billie Jean

King National Tennis Center, starting in the fall of 2013.

The renovation calls for the 6,000-seat Grandstand adjacent to

Louis Armstrong Stadium to be relocated; seven tournament courts

moved to create more room for spectators to get about the grounds;

and Armstrong Stadium rebuilt and expanded from 10,000 seats to


Danny Zausner, director of operations for the tennis center,

says it will take about a year to get approval from New York City

because it involves acquiring three-quarters of an acre of land

owned by the city. Mayor Michael Bloomberg supports the plan.

USTA Executive Director Gordon Smith declined to put a price tag

on the renovations, but said the organization is looking at

spending hundreds of millions.

Also among the planned upgrades are new practice courts with

viewing areas for fans and expanded parking garages. The

renovations will allow the USTA to sell 100,000 more tickets to the

13-day event and create more courts with televised matches, Zausner


The construction will be done in phases with the final phase

involving the rebuilding of Armstrong Stadium. The USTA expects

that to begin after the 2016 or 2017 tournament and be ready for

use the following year.

The USTA has worked with engineers and architects for years to

try to come up with a way to put a roof on the 25,000-seat Arthur

Ashe Stadium to help combat rain delays for marquee matches. The

last four men’s finals have been played on Mondays instead of the

traditional Sunday finale because of weather delays.

But because the tennis center was built on unstable, swampy

land, Ashe Stadium cannot hold a roof, USTA officials said.

Smith said the only way to do it would be to build a ”building

over a building.” He called that ”an architectural abomination”

that would not be worth the cost.

”There is not an economic case to be made for building a

roof,” he said.

Smith said the organization will keep working toward finding a

way to put a roof on the stadium, and there will be some cosmetic

improvements made to it during the renovation.

”Ashe is a very well-built stadium,” Smith said. ”It probably

has around 30 years left of useful life.”