Flushing is the center of the sports world this week not only because of the Mets-Yankees “Subway Series,” but also because the United States Tennis Association (USTA) unveiled its new retractable roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium just in time for the 2016 U.S. Open.
The stadium’s newest feature was put on display as tennis legend Billie Jean King, for whom the National Tennis Center is named, and Jeanne Ashe, wife of the late Arthur Ashe, successfully activated the retractable roof during a ceremony on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
The new roof features two retractable panels sitting on top of a 6,500-ton steel structure with a moving speed topping out at 25 feet per minute, allowing the roof to open or close in under seven minutes. Each panel weighs one million pounds, measures an astounding 38,000 square feet and travels on a 27-inch wheel along a steel stack to cover the 62,500-square-foot opening in the roof.
“U.S. Open fans, viewers and players deserve the ultimate tennis experience, and the transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center provides exactly that,” said Gordon Smith, executive director of the USTA. “The U.S. Open takes place in New York City, a town synonymous with excitement, and the inclusion of the retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium now truly makes the U.S. Open the ultimate center for the sport of tennis.”
The roof will provide spectators and players alike with shade from the sun and a cooler environment, as well as protection from any inclement weather such as heavy rains or high winds, something U.S. Open participants had to previously put up with.
The retractable roof is just one feature in the major transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. A brand-new Grandstand Stadium and an improved southern campus will debut this year as well. The Grandstand Stadium will house 8,125 seats — over 2,000 more seats than the original grandstand — while still providing great views.
“The 2016 U.S. Open will truly be historic, with a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium, a brand-new Grandstand Stadium and, of course, a completely transformed campus, truly a brand-new site,” said Katrina Adams, USTA chairman of the board and president. “A lot of bold thinking, incredible hard work and strategic problem solving went into getting us to this day.”
This year’s U.S. Open is set to bring about a new way of watching tennis in Flushing.
To view video of the official roof opening and closing visit the QNS Facebook page.