Tennis Industry magazine


US Open: Raising the Roof!

As the largest retractable roof for a tennis stadium takes shape, the 2015 US Open sets the stage for the next phase in the transformation of the NTC.

By Rick Rennert

Things are definitely looking up at the home of the US Open, as the construction work winds down at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (NTC) so the facility can get ready for the start of this year’s tournament on Aug. 31.

Since the first steel column for the retractable roof above Arthur Ashe Stadium was put in place last November, work has progressed steadily in the face of snow, sleet, rain and high winds. The last major piece of steel was installed in late May, and the final piece of steel was installed in the roof’s superstructure in mid-June. All told, the superstructure has required 6,000 tons of steel.

By late June, the three giant cranes that were employed to raise the steel were dismantled and removed from the site so the final preparations of the grounds for the 2015 tournament could begin.

“For the 2015 US Open,” says Danny Zausner, COO of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, “fans will see the entire fixed portion of the roof — nearly everything but the two retractable portions.” The other two portions of the roof — on the south and west ends of the stadium — will be covered by a rigid fabric made with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) — best known as Teflon — to prevent the roof’s underlying steel frame from casting shadows onto the court and hindering play.

Inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, four new state-of-the-art video screens have been installed, with each screen standing 19 feet high and 35 feet wide. The stadium will also feature a new sound system and LED lighting — the same energy-efficient lighting that was introduced last year at the West Stadium Courts and resulted in a 31 percent reduction in energy use.

Adjacent to Arthur Ashe Stadium, the Practice Gallery — which debuted at last year’s US Open along with the West Stadium Courts — has also been prepared for this year’s tournament. Protective pads that had been covering the area for the practice courts have been removed, and the courts have been restored and made ready for play.

Another sight sure to impress fans at the NTC is the construction of the new Grandstand at the southwest corner. As of late June, excavation work was about 75 percent finished, and a third of the steel frame for the new Grandstand may be in place by the start of the 2015 US Open. A construction fence will border the surrounding work zone during the tournament.

Both the roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium and the new Grandstand will be completed and operational in time for the 2016 US Open.

“For me, the incredibly satisfying part about this transformation going on all over the grounds is when people come see it, it’s the same sort of ‘wow factor’ as when they come to the US Open for the first time,” says Zausner. “The fact that people are so blown away by the look already is pretty encouraging, knowing there’s much more to be done.”

Arthur Ashe Stadium Roof — By the Numbers

4 — Catenary trusses, which span 460 feet and support the roof and the secondary framing

5 — Minutes approximately to open or close the roof

15 — Feet between the highest seat and the roof, allowing for ventilation

180 — Feet below the surface reached by each steel and concrete-filled piling

400 — Tons of each of the two gliding panels, which will come together from the east and west sides of Arthur Ashe Stadium to form the retractable roof

500 — Kilowatts required to move the roof’s gliding panels

6,000 — Tons of steel used for the roof’s superstructure

62,500 — Square feet in size for the roof’s opening

200,000 — Square feet of steel-and-Teflon covering for the entire roof



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