There he goes again.
Recently, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the United States Tennis Association is planning a massive overhaul of its facilities in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. This might have been good news if it didn’t come as a surprise to the people of Queens and the officials who represent them.
The plan includes the demolition of the Louis Armstrong Stadium, which seats 10,000 people, replacing it with a stadium that will seat 15,000.
In making the announcement, the mayor said, “The US Open is one of the city’s greatest sporting events, and it generates more than $750 million a year in economic activity. The city recognizes the crucial need to improve the USTA facility and supports this vision so that the center remains a top-ranked tennis venue capable of hosting the US Open and thereby allowing the tournament to remain in New York City for many decades.”
But it apparently has never occurred to anyone to discuss the plans with the local community board. For the record, we would like to remind the USTA and the mayor that Flushing Meadows Corona Park belongs to the people of Queens.
It is a park with a rich history that includes two World’s Fairs. In fact, the stadium they are planning to replace was built for the 1964 World’s Fair. It is not just another building.
Gene Kelty, chairman of CB 7, said, “I was kind of taken aback. For them to say, ‘By the way, we’re doing this and we want your support,’ that is not a good starting point.”
We welcome the jobs that will be created by this overhaul and, like the mayor, we want to keep the US Open in Queens.
But we agree with Kelty that the USTA’s decision to host auditions for the person who will sing the national anthem at the Open is at the least annoying. This is a Queens event, so the auditions should be held in Queens.
The USTA should be working with CB 7 to make sure its events, and especially its reconstruction, have the community’s support. For example, the building of a new parking garage at the stadium is something that should have been discussed. Parking and traffic in this park are a concern.
Once again the mayor has shown that he knows what’s good for Queens without asking.