The 50th anniversary tournament will introduce a serve clock and expand Hawk-Eye to every court but the most eye-catching addition is the 14,061-seat stadium, which now has a retractable roof
The US Open is serving up a number of changes as it celebrates its 50th birthday, including the introduction of a serve clock and the expansion of the Hawk-Eye electric line-calling system to all of the outer courts. But the most obvious addition to the last grand slam of the year is the rebuilt Louis Armstrong Stadium, a gorgeous 14,061-seat venue that gives the event a second retractable-roof stadium from none only three years ago and represents the final jewel in the United States Tennis Associations five-year, $600m transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Spectators got a first look at the terracotta-covered stadium at Wednesdays formal dedication, where Michael Chang and James Blake defeated John and Patrick McEnroe in a legends doubles match before a crowd of several hundred onlookers as qualifying matches played out across the grounds.
Designed by the Detroit architectural firm Rossetti, the new Armstrong is the worlds first naturally ventilated tennis stadium with a retractable roof, eliminating the need for an air conditioning system. The lower bowl will require a reserved ticket when the tournament properly kicks off on Monday, while the upper tier will be general admission for anyone on the grounds.
When Andy Murray saw off Novak Djokovic to win the US Open in 2012, it marked the fifth straight year the mens singles final had been forced to Monday because of inclement conditions earlier in the fortnight. Eleven months later, the USTA announced the ambitious expansion plan that has resulted in the construction of roofs over the two biggest show courts.
Danny Zausner, the chief operating officer at the National Tennis Center and overseer of the project, insists the timing was pure coincidence but there is no question the comically unlucky run of weather and backlogged matches over that half-decade propelled the issue of a roof from a want to a need in the public eye. The benefits for the players, he says, are manifest.
For the players that are playing in singles matches on either Ashe or Armstrong to be guaranteed to move through the tournament in pairs and not have to worry about rain delays, which might be five or 10 minutes as opposed to a day, is massive, Zausner says. The ability to know that the tournament will begin on Monday and end 14 days later on that Sunday is a big priority.