Friday, June 15, 2012

$500M Renovation for National Tennis Center

The U.S. Tennis Association will spend $500 million to reconstruct two stadiums and update infrastructure at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The renovations will add capacity for an extra 140,000 during the annual, US Open's two-week Grand Slam event. The impact of renovations on the 42-acre tennis hub, specifically for the Louis Armstrong and Grandstand stadiums, will be a boost to the local economy.

An estimated 700,000 people attend the US Open yearly, but after construction, the tennis center will hold an extra 10,000 people each day for the two-week Grand Slam event. Louis Armstrong Stadium will be rebuilt on its 125,000-square-foot plot, but its seating will grow by 50%, to 15,000. The Grandstand will move from the east side of the property to the southwest corner, growing in capacity by 2,000 seats along the way.

"The US Open is one of the city's greatest sporting events, and it generates more than $750 million a year in economic activity," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

The event provides more than 5,000 seasonal jobs for New Yorkers, putting $40 million directly and indirectly into the pockets of Queens employees.

The total footprint of the tennis center will grow by about an acre, with the reconstructed Grandstand expanding by 12,000 square feet. Movement of some tournament courts to the south will add 33,000 square feet, replacing grass and one of United Nations Avenue's three lanes. There will also be more retail, administrative and parking space within the site's current space.

"Our goal remains to ensure that the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center remains a world-class facility," said Jon Vegosen, president of the USTA in the statement.

The USTA, which will find its own funding for the upgrades, hopes to begin construction after the 2013 tournament and complete the project by 2018. Tournaments will continue to be held during the five-year period because much of the construction can be done during the off-season. Louis Armstrong Stadium poses the biggest challenge, as it has to be rebuilt where it is razed.

Both stadiums were built for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. While the USTA has invested $500 million in the tennis center's upkeep since 1978, it says the overhaul is necessary to remain competitive with similar stadiums and events around the world.