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New Grandstand promising to surpass expectations

USTA Construction at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, N.Y. on Tuesday, Jul, 2016. Photo: Ashley Marshall/USTA ()

Nestled in the southwest corner of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the new Grandstand is a state-of-the-art 8,125-seat stadium that will open its doors to fans in just three weeks.

Construction started on the US Open’s third show court last spring, and fans who attended the 2015 tournament will have seen the foundations of the bowl in place. Fast forward 12 months and that construction site has been transformed into an architectural marvel.

“It’s just beautiful. It’s a work of art and you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who will not be awe of the structure,” said Danny Zausner, the chief operating officer of the National Tennis Center. “Whether you’re inside it, on the concourses or looking at it from Arthur Ashe Stadium, I think people will be completely blown away by the look and feel of the structure and how intimate it still is.”

The stadium is sunken 10 feet below the ground to create a more intimate setting, and its asymmetrical design ensures the majority of seats – 2,000 more than in the old Grandstand and almost three times as many as Court 17 – are located to keep fans out of the direct sun. Combine that with a shade canopy that encircles two-thirds of the stadium and you get a great place to soak up hours of world-class tennis.

There are eight concessions stands offering everything from pizza and ice cream to sea food and BBQ, a grassy picnic area under a lush tree canopy, a mini food village that seats up to 500 people and a raised patio deck with outdoor lawn furniture and oversized umbrellas from which you can look out onto neighboring Courts 8-10. There’s also a glass-fronted Adidas retail store and more than twice as many toilets as in the old stadium, which will be used as a sixth practice court in 2016.

“Last year at the tournament, fans who came out would have seen 25 percent of the steel erected,” said Zausner. “That’s a cool spectacle to see because you would have been looking at construction taking place in a zone of the site where there had been nothing before. But clearly that would have given you no indication of just how special the Grandstand is now."

Those who fear they will miss the charm of the old stadium need not worry. The new Grandstand plans to take everything that was great about the former No. 3 court and make it better, combining the big-court feel of Louis Armstrong Stadium with the intimacy of Court 17. And unlike the old stadium, every seat in the new Grandstand has a back rest instead of bench seating. The sightlines have also been improved and the stadium will benefit from new energy-efficient LED lighting and new video boards.

Construction started in March 2015, running through last year’s US Open. The steelwork was completed four months ago and masonry walls went up shortly after. The fabric roof panels were completed in the middle of May and the court surface was finished just two weeks ago. Now the race is on to complete the electronics, finish the tiling work and ensure everything from kitchen appliances and elevators to fire safety equipment works properly.

“As you get into the last phase of a project, you start moving out of concrete and steel and into finished work,” said Charles Jettmar, the USTA’s managing director of capital projects and engineering. “So over the past two months, they’ve been fine-turning the electrcal systems and doing the interior work like painting and putting in railings, all the finishing stuff you would normally see just like if you’re building a house. It gets more toward the finesse trades and less of the steel and the concrete and the digging."

"This was designed from the ground up as a stand-alone court, and it will be much better from a player perspective and a fan perspective." Jettmar added. "I think there will be nothing be accolades. The Grandstand is very noticeable. It’s a gem and it’s loaded with fan amenities. It’s beautiful."

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