As 2016 draws to a close, USTA.com is taking a look back at the top storylines, headlines and highlights from the year in American tennis. Visit our Year in Review homepage to see our complete Top 10.
By Ashley Marshall, USTA.com
“Redefining spectacular.” Those were the words used in 2013 to describe the sweeping transformation planned for the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the home of the US Open.
And while fans got to see glimpses of this transformation over the years and months that followed, the 2016 US Open was where everything came together.
Even if you had been here before, you’d never been here before.
Highlighting the transformation was a $150-million retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium, the biggest tennis stadium in the world. The roof put an end to rain delays inside the 23,771-seat theater, but it was far from the only enhancement this year at Flushing Meadows.
A new 8,000-seat Grandstand stadium opened in the northwest corner of the site, offering unparalleled intimacy and best-in-class modern amenities from a raised patio viewing deck, shade canopy and retail store to eight new food concessions and a mini food village.
The Grandstand was connected to the rest of the 40-plus-acre facility by a 500-foot long, 40-foot wide pathway that ran to Court 17. This pedestrian boulevard was flanked by field courts on either side and a host of merchandise booths and sponsor activations.
These field courts were completely rebuilt from the ground up ahead of the 2016 tournament. There was more space around the bleachers, raised walkways connecting Courts 8-10 and 13-16, expanded seating behind the baselines and twice as many restrooms, water fountains and food and drink choices than ever before.
While fans were blown away by the improvements, there’s even more still to come. The building that housed Louis Armstrong Stadium and the old Grandstand was demolished within weeks of the 2016 tournament’s end, and work is now underway on a new, bigger Louis Armstrong Stadium in its footprint.
A temporary stadium will accommodate fans in 2017 before the new stadium, which will feature a retractable roof and increase capacity by 4,000 to around 14,000, will open in 2018.