It’s going to somewhat different this year at the US Open with the roof structure forming over Arthur Ashe Stadium, making the Flushing Meadows centerpiece look like a prop from Men in Black 4.
But the much needed roof is not ready and not operational. Instead you have coverings on the west and south sides of the stadium, making the grandstand a shadier venue.
When the roof becomes fully operational, it will be the largest of any tennis stadium in the world, with a 62,500 square foot opening. Six thousand tons of steel form the superstructure, which contains 1,700 structural beams and 115,000 bolts. A total of 176 steel and concrete-filled pilings, driven 180 feet below the surface, anchor the 24 steel columns which rise 150 feet above ground to support the superstructure.
Even with part of the 6000 ton structure exposed this year, the roof also allowed a few other improvements to the stadium. Gone are the tooth brush light towers and in comes an LED system installed on bottom of the covering. It’s going to make night sessions a better experience during the tournament.
Also new, this year, are the video boards at the top of the stadium. Taking up the back rows in the edifice, the new video screens are now on each side, rather than the north and south ends.
Finally, a completely new sound system has been installed throughout the stadium taking advantage of the roof trusses and catwalks.
On the southwest corner, the new 8,000 seat Grandstand is rising from the ground. Slated to be completed next year, the new show court will take the place of the old Grandstand, which is the northern end of Louis Armstrong Stadium.
The West Stadium Courts and Practice Gallery will continue to be one of the most desirable fan areas in 2015. With seating for more than 3,000, fans can watch tournament action, as well as the top seeds practicing. The West Stadium Courts also will be the home of the second annual American Collegiate Invitational, which will take place from Thursday, September 10, through Saturday, September 12.
Around the grounds, the traditional fare is still available at the Open. The Carnegie Deli has their pastrami and corned beef, while Pat LaFrieda’s has the best steak sandwich in the area. There is also a choice of nice dining experiences, which range from the expensive (Champions Steak House and Aces) to the more moderate (Heineken House and the Red Star Café).
There’s also a new official coffee (Lavazza), wine (Jacob’s Creek) and juice (Juice Press) of the Open.
Although the Open starts Monday, this week the qualifying tournament is taking place. It’s the best deal in the city, as the admission is free of charge.