For 40 years, Louis Armstrong Stadium played host to some of the most memorable moments in tennis history. Today, a new thread in the rich and vibrant tapestry of the US Open was woven.
Four-time US Open champion John McEnroe joined internationally acclaimed musician Wynton Marsalis and former New York City Mayor David Dinkins in officially opening the new Louis Armstrong Stadium at a dedication ceremony Wednesday morning, hosted by USTA President Katrina Adams.
“This beautiful new 14,000 seat stadium—complete with its own retractable roof—will provide the US Open’s great players with another grand stage on which to perform, and also provide our world-class fans another great venue to experience all the thrills and excitement of those performances,” said Adams.
“We all know that the US Open is all about making memories; I know many more memories will be made in this magnificent stadium.”
The stadium, the final piece of a $600 million five-year strategic transformation, will be used for its first official match when the main draw of the 2018 US Open begins Monday. The stadium will also host a dedicated night session for the first week of the tournament, giving the US Open two stadia with night matches for the first time in tournament history.
Headlining Wednesday’s dedication ceremony, attended by an estimated 1,800 fans on hand during Fan Week, was Marsalis, who got the fans on their feet with a lively performance.
Louis Armstrong Grand Opening
Marsalis, accompanied by an eight-piece jazz band, praised the new venue and said it would have made Louis Armstrong proud.
“The USTA's commitment to Mr. Armstrong's name speaks to their understanding of American culture and to Louis' enduring legacy,” he said. “It also reaffirms his place in the history of Queens, of New York City and of his national status as an American ambassador of the first order.
“Louis Armstrong played and sang with such sweetness, sophistication, deep deep soul, fire and absolute accuracy. His innovations changed and enriched the world of music forever. Though he was from New Orleans and was a dedicated gumbo eater, he settled in Queens and he brought his special brand of down-home feeling to this borough.”
Other dignataries joining Adams on stage were Queens borough president Melinda Katz; Oscar Cohen, a founding member of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation; USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Chief Operating Officer Danny Zausner; and Rossetti Architects president Matthew Rossetti.
Members of PS143Q Elementary School and the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation and Museum were also in attendance, as were ambassadors for Net Generation, the official youth tennis of the USTA.
Added McEnroe, who followed up the formal dedication by playing played an exhibition match with brother Pat against James Blake and Michael Chang, “Alright, this is awesome. I know the players are going to be super excited. As a New Yorker and as a Queens boy, I couldn't be prouder of this stadium.”