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Arthur Ashe roof structure complete; work begins on Grandstand

June 10, 2015 03:20 PM

By Mark Preston, USOpen.org

As a rule, it’s only after the US Open begins that raising the roof inside Arthur Ashe Stadium becomes a familiar practice. After all, the game’s greatest stage annually hosts some of the year’s most exciting tennis, featuring the biggest names in the sport competing for tennis’ toughest title. That’s a combination that never fails to bring fans to their feet. 

But on Wednesday, June 10, the idea of raising the roof on Ashe took on a whole new – and more significant – meaning, as the last piece of steel in the impressive retractable roof superstructure over the sport’s biggest stadium was hoisted into place. The completion of this phase of the roof project represents another major milestone in the reimagining of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which is undergoing a total transformation aimed at making the home of the US Open one of the top sports venues in the world.

Click here for a full photo gallery of the completed roof frame.

The retractable roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium, which will be fully operational for the 2016 US Open, required some 5,000 tons of steel to complete. The roof contains 1,700 structural beams and 115,000 bolts and is supported by 24 exterior columns.

The structure features the largest roof opening of any tennis stadium in the world, measuring 250 feet by 250 feet, providing 62,500 square feet of open space.

“The important thing for us was to still be an outdoor tournament, and except when it rains, that roof will be open and people will still feel they are outdoors,” said Danny Zausner, Chief Operating Officer of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. “You can still go to the upper promenade and still see sweeping views of Manhattan, which we felt was very important to the process.”

With the last piece of the roof structure in place, the process now is to start preparing the site for the 2015 US Open, which begins Aug. 31 and runs through Sept. 13. A temporary shade structure will prevent shadows from the structure from interfering with play, and four new video screens, a new sound system and new LED lighting are still to be installed. At the conclusion of this year’s event, the retractable roof sections will be installed, along with a chilled water ventilation system that will help to control humidity inside the stadium when the roof is closed.

While the roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium is the most visible of the enhancements made to date, there are many more to come. Construction has recently begun on a new Grandstand Court, slated to open in 2016 in the southwest corner of the grounds. Also due for 2016 is an expansion of the southern campus, that will include refurbished tournament courts and expanded fan amenities. And the final piece of the transformation will be a new, 14,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium, which is scheduled to be operational in 2018.

“We are completely reimagining the Tennis Center,” said Gordon Smith, USTA Chief Operating Officer. “We want nothing less than this facility being the finest tennis venue in the world and the preeminent sports facility in New York City.”

Strategic Transformation Timeline

For 2014 US Open

Completion of the West Stadium Courts and Practice Gallery: Three new courts – Nos. 4, 5 and 6 – plus five new practice courts built in the northwest area of the grounds, along with a 30-foot, two-story viewing gallery for fans.

For 2016 US Open

A roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium complete and operational.

New Grandstand stadium debuts.

Parts of the south campus expanded to alleviate traffic on the grounds; these widened walkways will eventually connect Court 17 to the new Grandstand. Part of this construction will include 10 rebuilt field courts.

For 2018 US Open

New Louis Armstrong Stadium debuts.




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