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U.S. Open venue to get retractable roof

August 15, 2013|By Diane Pucin
  • Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium in 2008.
Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium in 2008. (Getty Images )

The United States Tennis Assn. announced Thursday that it will build a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium, the main court used for the U.S. Open.

At a news conference in New York that was streamed live, Gordon Smith, executive director and chief operating officer of the USTA, said it was hoped that the roof would be ready for the 2016 U.S. Open but that 2017 was more likely.

The U.S. Open is one of the four major tournaments held each year, and for the last five years either the men's or women's final, and sometimes both, were postponed or interruptedĀ because of rain.

"We want this to be known as an outdoor tournament," Smith said. "We're only going to close the roof if it's going to rain or is raining. There were will be rules and procedures put in place." In Britain, Wimbledon has added a retractable roof over its venerable Centre Court.

USTA officials estimated the cost of the roof will be about $100 million. It will be part of the a larger project that includes a new Louis Armstrong Stadium court, also with a retractable roof, a rebuilt Grandstand court, upgrades to smaller courts and wider concourses for fans.

The total project is projected to cost $550 million, USTA officials said, with all construction scheduled to be finished by the 2018 U.S. Open.

The tournament recently signed an 11-year television agreement with ESPN, which will exclusively broadcast the event beginning in 2015. Right now, CBS holds some of the rights and shows the men's and women's semifinals and finals.

Officials said four studies determined the feasibility of building a roof on Ashe Stadium. When the roof is not closed, there will be a 250-foot-by-250-foot opening above. Each of the roof's four panels will weigh 400 tons, but it is to be able to go from open to closed in five to seven minutes.

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