Tennis Center to get $300 million facelift, but no roof for Ashe

Chris Chase
November 15, 2010

The USTA has approved a massive $300 million renovation project for the National Tennis Center but has no plans to put a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium despite three straight rain-delayed men's finals at the US Open.

Sports Business Journal reports (link is subscription only) that the plan includes the demolition and reconstruction of Louis Armstrong Stadium as well as the addition of two smaller stadiums around the grounds. The process of knocking down Armstrong, the former home of the finals wouldn't begin for a few years. However, construction on one of the two "mini stadiums" will begin immediately.

The replacement for Louis Armstrong Stadium would retain the name and hold up to 15,000 people. Currently, Armstrong holds a little more than 10,000. The new stadium would be "roof ready," which means a roof could be easily added onto the structure in future years.

With the weather delays that have affected the Open over the last three years, there was some thought that the USTA would have made plans to put a roof on the 22,000-seat Ashe Stadium. But Danny Zausner, managing director of the NTC, explained to the Sports Business Journal that Ashe cannot hold the weight that a roof would bring, so supporting pillars would need to be built around the stadium. Such a project is not included in the $300 million renovation. The USTA didn't rule out exploring the option in the coming years though.

As we wrote during the Open, Ashe is fine without a roof. Rain may cause headaches every few years, but the current run of weather delays is more bad luck than anything. This isn't Wimbledon; there's no long history of US Open rain delays. Throwing $100 million at an inconvenience isn't prudent. This $300 million seems to be a good use of funds.

For now, the USTA will spend $30 million on a first wave of projects, which will include the construction of a 3,000 seat stadium on the southeast corner of the property, and improvements to Ashe (including the the widening of concourses and additional bathrooms and concession stands).