The changes are coming and some are here.
The $500 million renovation of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is underway with some visible changes already to the grounds.
The biggest difference this year is the renovated practice courts which now have stands that fit around 1500 people. Fans can watch the pros practice, always a popular spot at the Open, while also having the same space on the side for the ever present autograph seekers with that giant tennis balls.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In Arthur Ashe stadium, the upper deck boxes were taken out and new wider seats put in.
The old Shea Stadium-like cutouts were notorious for their small seating. Now the newer more comfortable seats will allow for more legroom and they are wider as well.
Also you can see the beginnings of the roof going up on Arthur Ashe. Giant flower pots are seen around the stadium. These are not for show; rather it’s the roof’s foundation that was banged in over the winter down 150 feet.
So if anyone dares you to move one, don’t take the bet.
The roof is scheduled to be in operation in 2016. The plan is to remove the top two rows of Ashe to reduce the weight of the stadium, while making up for it with the new seats.
Next year will be the last for Louis Armstrong Stadium, scheduled to be demolished and rebuilt in time for 2017 and fully finished in 2018. A new Grandstand will be open in 2016 at the southwest corner.
The Open will also move the southern courts down to widen the concourse, so that court 17 connects with the new Grandstand.
All the changes including a model can be seen at The Open of Tomorrow exhibit on the southeast side of Arthur Ashe Stadium.