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USTA Launches New Programming, New Fan Enhancements And New Technology for 2006 US Open

August 22, 2006 12:04 PM

The USTA announced a series of expanded fan enhancements, new programs and new technology advancements for the 2006 US Open, including the first use of instant replay technology at a Grand Slam tournament.

New programs and upgrades include new technologically advanced video screens, 20 Grand Slam champions and finalists vying in a new competition, a virtual US Open store built by Polo, interactive DirecTV coverage for the first time, and an expansion of last year's program where fans in all three stadium courts can now keep balls hit into the stands.

"We are continually exploring new ways to expand the fan experience, and change the way people watch and enjoy the sport of tennis," said Arlen Kantarian, Chief Executive, Professional Tennis, USTA. "This year's new innovations -- led by instant replay technology -- should benefit players, TV viewers and the US Open fans."

New enhancements for the 2006 US Open include:

New Programming and Events
Special Opening Night Ceremony: A special on-court ceremony featuring former champions Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, Venus Williams and New York City Mayor Bloomberg will formally rename the USTA National Tennis Center in honor of Billie Jean King. The ceremony will include special musical performances and other special guests.

"Instant Replay" Electronic Line Calling: The most highly anticipated innovation at this year's US Open -- instant replay technology with player challenges -- will be available in Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium. This breakthrough for the sport has been developed to improve officiating while increasing the interest and excitement for in-stadium fans and television viewers.

Champions Invitational: This year's US Open will launch a new competition, the US Open Champions Invitational, to be held on Tuesday, September 5, through Saturday, September 9. Each of the 20 players has been a Grand Slam champion or finalist. Competitors include such names as Tracy Austin, Martina Navratilova, Jana Novotna, Pat Cash, Todd Martin, Guillermo Vilas and Ilie Nastase. Players will compete either in singles or in mixed doubles.

Live Outdoor Telecasts in New York City: American Express will present US Open tournament viewing events at Rockefeller Center and Madison Square Park free to the public September 2-10. Both locations will be transformed into interactive tennis experiences complete with giant viewing screens carrying live coverage from USA Network and CBS Sport.

New Technology:
Interactive TV Coverage: DIRECTV, USA Network and the USTA are providing tennis fans with the first-ever interactive TV coverage of a major U.S. tennis event through US Open Interactive on USA on DIRECTV. Free to DIRECTV customers, the interactive service will provide unprecedented access to more early round matches, statistics and information on demand, and the ability to view up to five matches simultaneously.

US Open Polo Virtual Store: Polo Ralph Lauren, the official apparel sponsor of the US Open, will introduce interactive shopping at the National Tennis Center with the first on-site virtual store to be located on the club level of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Shoppers, using cutting edge touch screen technology will be able to pick up their favorite US Open fashions at three free standing kiosks on the club level of Arthur Ashe Stadium.

New State-of-the-Art Video Screens: The most technically advanced video screens make their debut at the US Open throughout the grounds of the National Tennis Center. All video boards inside and outside of the Stadiums have been replaced.

IBM PointTracker: USOpen.org is the only place on the Web to view live scores. For fans who can't attend the matches in person, several enhancements are being made to USOpen.org scoring. IBM PointTracker will allow users to view how each point has been played via animated 3D graphics of each shot hit during a point for selected singles matches as they occur -- and archived for viewing later -- showing the trajectory of the ball throughout each rally and describing how each point was won.

New Fan Enhancements
Fans Keep Balls: The tradition of fans keeping balls hit into the stands, introduced in 2005 in Arthur Ashe Stadium only, will now be expanded to all three main show courts. The chair umpire will maintain a variety of balls with different levels of wear to replace the balls kept by spectators.

Players Autograph Balls: At the end of each match, the winner will autograph three balls and hit them into the stands. This post-match tradition, introduced in 2005 in Arthur Ashe Stadium only, will be expanded this year to include all three main show courts.

New Ad Campaign: The USTA launched a new US Open advertising campaign promoting the US Open as an entertainment experience that captures the three most popular elements of today's pop culture -- sport, celebrity, and fashion. The campaign features a new tagline -- "It's Showtime" -- with the game's top stars featured in several different lifestyle settings.

Record Prize Money
The 2006 US Open purse will top $18.5 million, with the potential to exceed $21.1 million -- representing the highest annual purse in sports. The men's and women's US Open singles champions will earn $1.2 million each with the ability to earn an additional $1 million in bonus prize money (for a total $2.2 million potential payout) based on their performances in the US Open Series. In addition, both US Open singles champions will receive a new Lexus GS 450h automobile.

New at the USTA National Tennis Center

New Name: The USTA National Tennis Center will be renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Opening Night of the 2006 US Open to honor the tennis legend and trailblazer whose pioneering efforts helped change the sport of tennis and launch the drive for women's equality in sports and in society.

US Open Court of Champions: The US Open Court of Champions features a complete listing of all the US Open and U.S. Championships singles winners, along with individual monuments honoring the best of the best-including this year's honorees: Don Budge and Martina Navratilova. The US Open Court of Champions attraction is located between the South Plaza and Courts 10 and 13.

International Tennis Hall of Fame Gallery: "Vive el Tenis!" is the first exhibition to tell the story of tennis in the Americas outside the boundaries of the U.S. and Canada. The exhibit illustrates the different paths tennis has taken and how the game in the U.S. is connected with South and Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Blue Courts: The new color scheme of a "US Open Blue" inner court surrounded by a green outer court has helped to heighten the visibility of the ball for players, fans and television audiences. The color scheme is being adopted by public parks and schools across the country.

The US Open is the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world and attracted a record crowd of 659,538 in 2005. More than 87 million viewers watched the 2005 US Open on CBS Sports and USA Network, and international broadcasts reached 184 countries. The 2006 US Open will be held Monday, August 28 through Sunday, September 10.




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