It’s that time of year again. The United States Tennis Open starts on Tuesday with the qualifying tournament and then the main draw begins on Monday Aug. 29.
With a $500 million transformation going on, it will be a different Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, created to enhance the fan experience.
Strategic Transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
- Retractable Roof Operational over Arthur Ashe Stadium
More than 13 million pounds of steel now surround Arthur Ashe Stadium in a technological first – constructing a stand-alone support system for a retractable roof over an existing stadium. The two million-pound retractable panels with attached PTFE fabric membrane close in under seven minutes, and will allow scheduling consistency for fans, players and US Open television partners. The retractable roof is the largest of any tennis stadium in the world, with a 62,500 square foot opening that is larger than the area of a football field.
- New Grandstand Stadium
After more than 18 months of construction, the new Grandstand Stadium will be debuted at the 2016 US Open. The sunken court, surrounded by 8,125 seats, retains the intimate viewing experience of the old Grandstand. Now located in the southwest corner of the campus, the new Grandstand will be surrounded by expanded retail and food concessions, including a new Food Village that will alleviate some of the congestion of the main Food Village on the eastern edge of the campus.
- New Boulevard Traversing the Southern Campus and Southern Field Courts
Another major accomplishment of the overall strategic transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, was the creation of a picturesque boulevard connecting Court 17 in the southeast and the new Grandstand in the southwest. The 500-foot-long, and 40-foot-wide boulevard provides fans with easier movement, new and roomier sponsor activity centers, more shade and more amenities.
- Southern Field Court Seating
Additional seating has been added to all new southern field courts. In all, a total of 2,099 new seats have been added to this portion of the facility. Similar to the seating design at the West Stadium Courts (Courts 4, 5 and 6), fans will be able to freely move over a connected seating structure between Courts 8, 9 and 10, and Courts 13, 14, 15, and 16.
Fan Enhancements at the 2016 US Open
- Community Day, Thursday, September 8
Following its debut at the 2015 US Open, the USTA is re-instituting complimentary grounds admission to all fans who come during the day (12 noon to 6 p.m.) of the tournament’s second Thursday, September 8. The day’s action will be filled with doubles play, including the Men’s Doubles Semifinals and Women’s Doubles Semifinals, as well as semifinal action in the Champions Invitational, a showcase of former Grand Slam tournament champions and finalists. Also on the slate that day will be the third year of the American Collegiate Invitational as well as the world’s top boys and girls competing in the US Open Junior Championships.
- Salute to Louis Armstrong Stadium
On Thursday, September 8, the USTA also will give a final salute to Louis Armstrong Stadium by allowing fans access to the Stadium for a final time. A pro exhibition and a trick shot competition for fans led by some the world’s best tennis trick shot artists are two of the scheduled activities for that day. Fans also will be invited onto the court to play on Louis Armstrong before it is shuttered for the final time. Louis Armstrong Stadium will be replaced by a new state-of-the-art stadium for the 2018 US Open.
- Bradley Theodore Art Installation
To commemorate the last year of Louis Armstrong and the old Grandstand structure, the US Open is partnering with acclaimed NYC artist, Bradley Theodore, who will develop a series of four murals within the Great Hall in Louis Armstrong. The murals will pay homage to iconic individuals associated with both stadiums including Serena and Venus Williams, John McEnroe, Billie Jean King and Louis Armstrong. After the US Open, one of the murals will be donated to the USTA Foundation for auction to further support the mission of growing the game of tennis.
- US Open American Express Fan Experience
In line with American Express’ tradition of adapting the latest technology to create unique, never-before-seen experiences, the Pro Walk, located in the US Open American Express Fan Experience, gives attendees the opportunity to take a virtual walk from the player locker room to the court in the newly renovated Arthur Ashe Stadium, just like a pro. The experience combines digital replicas of the player locker room and tunnel, virtual appearances by former US Open champions Pete Sampras and Monica Seles, three-dimensional sound and a dome projection of the stadium to make it truly feel like you’re on the US Open’s main stage.
- CHASE Charge & Watch Program
Building on the success of the Chase sponsored US Open phone-charging program, this year fans can pick up a mobile charging device from the Chase booth located next to the Food Village to fully charge their smartphones and stay connected to the tournament. When connected to the US Open mobile app, the charging unit also will deliver live video to the fan’s phone. The devices, which work through the on-site radio frequencies, will only work on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
- New Food Offerings
This year’s US Open will bring new and innovative dining spaces throughout the grounds to create a truly unique variety of culinary choices for foodies and fans alike. New dining locations include the Grandstand Food Village, Oyster Bar 7, Court 12 Concessions, and the expanded South Plaza area. New partners include Toro featuring a menu by James Beard Award-winning Chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette, BLT Prime at Champions by Chef David Burke, Fuku fried chicken by Chef David Chang, Angry Taco and BLT Fish Shack by Chef David Burke/BLT Group. Korilla BBQ, SoomSoom(falafel) & Neapolitan Express featuring organic non GMO authentic neapolitian pizza. Pat LaFrieda Meat Co. moves to the newly expanded South Plaza along with a redesigned Wine Bar Food by Tony Mantuano. Additionally, Grey Goose will debut a new bar in the Grandstand Food Village along with a new cocktail, Grey Goose Le Grand Fizz, a blend of Grey Goose Vodka, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, soda water and lime for a refreshing summer cocktail. The main Food Village will feature a new Jacob’s Creek bar showcasing the winemaker’s “Two Lands” wines. The Moet & Chandon Terrace returns to the patio area near the US Open Club this year as well.
- Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day Presented by Hess
For the 21st consecutive year, Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess, the world’s biggest tennis and entertainment celebration, kicks off the US Open on Saturday, August 27, airing for the first time on ABC Network on Sunday, August 28 from 2:00 – 3:00 PM ET. This year’s stars include multi-platinum hip-hop artist Flo Rida, international pop star Zara Larsson, award-winning Disney Channel actress Laura Marano, Entertainment Weekly’s “One To Watch” Jordan Fisher, breakout pop band Forever In Your Mind and Australian singer-songwriter Troye Sivan. The show will be hosted by Disney Channel’s Joey Bragg and will feature a number of top tennis stars including Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, and a special appearance by film actor and DJ, Ansel Elgort.
- International Music Legend Phil Collins to Perform on Opening Night
Generational icon and cultural legend Phil Collins will perform during the Opening Night Ceremony on the evening of Monday, August 29, in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The performance, Collins’ first major public appearance in six years, will be televised live by ESPN2 in the United States and by a host of international broadcasters around the world. Collins will be joined for a special duet by Leslie Odom, Jr., a Queens, N.Y. native, who recently won a Tony Award for his performance as Aaron Burr in the hit play “Hamilton.” Odom, Jr., also is slated to sing the National Anthem that evening. The Ceremony will feature expanded technology, incorporating more than 100 LED moving lights hung from trusses along the east and west catwalks, spanning more than 300 feet, designed to spotlight the new roof.
- Nightly Light Show with Lasers
Debuting last year, the USTA added a nightly light show during the evening sessions of the tournament. This year’s show will include lighting positions in all 20 promenade voms, with the addition of color mixing large format lasers which will create impactful beams of defined light that will be choreographed with the rest of the lighting system to showcase the new roof and enhance player introductions.
US Open Technology
- Times Square Takeover
Fans in Times Square on August 25 will be invited by US Open brand ambassadors to take their selfies to the next level thanks to the US Open selfie takeover. Photos of US Open players, fans and signature elements of the experience will rotate on a series of billboards in the heart of Times Square on 42nd and Broadway. Fans will also be treated to a special Snapchat filter to highlight their participation. These filters will play on signature elements of the US Open experience (i.e. the blue courts, lobster roll, iconic trophies) to allow fans to show their enthusiasm for the US Open.
- US Open “Selfie” Fancam
For the first time, fans in Arthur Ashe stadium will be able to use their phones to remotely control cameras to zoom into their location, take and share the ultimate fan selfie on their social media accounts. Fans will go to usopenfancam.com, enter their seat location, and then will have control of one of eight cameras in-stadium.
- US Open APP Enhancements
New for 2016, the US Open app debuts US Open Guest Information Presented by American Express. “Guest Info” delivers comprehensive listed information that assists fans in navigating the US Open in real time. Guest Info is an intelligent engagement platform that leverages location services to put Guest Services directly in the hands of US Open attendees. The feature will provide all the closest, most relevant points of interest tailored to the fan’s specific location on the grounds.
- Open Access
Open Access returns for 2016, providing the single fan registration platform that enables US Open attendees to gain access to unique experiences delivered by official US Open partners throughout the grounds and be entered to win tickets, hospitality upgrades, and other prizes. Fans register once either in the US Open app or on usopen.org. They then receive a unique 7-digit QR code to scan at every activation. At the end of the day, fans will receive personalized photos and videos of their US Open experience.
- US Open Social Media Enhancements
The US Open is expanding its social media impact with a number of new enhancements this year. Among them, the first US Open branded emoji keyboard in partnership with YourMoji, a series of custom Snapchat filters for US Open fans playing on the signature elements of the US Open, and a special photo and video experience for players at their check-in, where they can showcase their personality and pose with props including custom designed racquet art by former player Andres Ballas. An on-site social booth will allow fans to take photos and create their own GIFs to be shared on social platforms. In addition, the US Open has expanded its social influencer program, leveraging partners such as creative duo Street Etiquette, Fashion Bomb Daily and the entertainment marketing collective Everyday People helmed by Roble Ali and Saada Ahmed. The program will culminate with an on-site activation, The Suite Spot, which will serve as a social media content hub to highlight key aspects of the US Open experience through the lens of participating influencers.
US Open Television
- ESPN to Produce Record Number of Hours for 2016 US Open
Following a successful first year, ESPN returns as the exclusive live domestic media partner this year. During the 2016 US Open, ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to air nearly 130 hours of live match play with a record 1,300 hours of first-to-last ball coverage, available on WatchESPN, ESPN continues to expand its production and coverage of the US Open, featuring play from up to 12 courts each day — on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, Grandstand Stadium, courts 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 17 — and incorporating cutting-edge camera technologies.
- Comprehensive 24/7 Schedule
ESPN will kick-off its US Open coverage on Sunday, August 28 with a live “SportsCenter on the Road” from the US Open at 1:00pm ET on ESPN2, followed-by Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess at 2:00pm on ABC. Daily coverage commences on Monday, August 29 at 11:00am on WatchESPN, 1:00pm on ESPN and 6:00pm on ESPN2 (all times Eastern). ESPN2 will deliver wall-to-wall coverage of Labor Day weekend from 11:00am – 11:00pm each day. Finals Weekend will culminate with the men’s singles final on Sunday (September 11) and the women’s singles final on Saturday (September 10). Both finals will air at 4:00pm on ESPN. The men’s singles semifinals will be played on Friday (September 9) afternoon, with the women’s singles semifinals scheduled for primetime on the second Thursday (September 8) night. In addition to the extensive live match coverage delivered across the ESPN family of networks — Tennis Channel will air daily preview and highlights shows as well as overnight encore programming — offering fans a 24/7 US Open experience
- Live Streaming
Again this year, USOpen.org will offer live streaming in partnership with ESPN, with more than 1,300 hours of coverage across all broadcast courts available on WatchESPN and through the US Open app – providing a “digital grounds pass” for fans. In addition to its expansive match coverage, WatchESPN also offers the US Open Chase Review Channel, multi-court/camera offering, as well as Spanish language coverage. New this year, the press conference feed from interview room 1 will also be available on WatchESPN.