By Madina Toure
The United States Tennis Association hosted a media preview Wednesday of the ongoing construction of the US Open construction projects, which include a retractable roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium as well as new Grandstand and Louis Armstrong stadiums.
The 250-foot-by-250-foot retractable roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium will be fully operational and ready to debut at the 2016 US Open. The Grandstand stadium will also be completed and match-ready, along with the fully revamped Southern Campus.
This fall, the old Louis Armstrong Stadium and the old Grandstand will be demolished. Construction on the new Louis Armstrong stadium will also begin and should be finalized by winter/spring 2017-2018. The stadium is scheduled to open in time for the 2018 US Open.
Danny Zausner, chief operating officer for the National Tennis Center, gave a brief presentation outlining the status of the projects at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, then gave a tour of the construction site.
The expected cost of the projects once they are completed will total in excess of $600 million, Zausner said.
“It’s a tremendous amount of work,” he said. “A lot of people think of the whole project as just about the roof opening and closing, but there are so many other pieces to it.”
Although Arthur Ashe’s capacity will remain the same at 23,771 during the 2016 and 2017 US Opens, the capacity for the Grandstand will increase from 6,106 in 2015 to 8,000 in 2016 and 2017.
The capacity for Louis Armstrong remains at 10,103 for 2015 and 2016, but it is not yet known what its capacity will be in 2017.
“The intent here is that we’ll always have two matches that could play side by side with two retractable roofs,” Zausner said. “That will be in 2018.”
Construction started on the base of the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof superstructure in the fall of 2013, with eight bases put into place surrounding the stadium. Each base houses three columns, which will support future roof structure. Pylons were also driven 150 feet to 200 feet below ground.
Work also kicked off on the new West Stadium Courts as well as the Practice Gallery, both of which officially debuted during the 2014 US Open.
In the fall of 2014, two cranes were brought in from Germany following the completion of the 2014 US Open, and a third crane was brought in to speed up construction after weather-related delays brought on by a brutal winter.
A stationary roof superstructure with more than 13 million pounds, or 6,500 tons of steel, was built upon the eight bases. Construction of the new Grandstand stadium court in the southwest corner of the grounds also commenced.
During the 2015 US Open, the stationary part of the roof superstructure made its debut over Arthur Ashe, but the Grandstand construction was halted during the US Open. Construction on the retractable portion of Arthur Ashe’s roof started in the fall of 2015.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour