USTA Announces Changes to US Open, Facility, Schedule
24 Aug, 2015
The USTA announced a series of physical improvements, fan and player upgrades, and new sponsor activations will be unveiled at the 2015 US Open. The main draw of the tournament begins on Monday, August 31 and concludes on Sunday, September 13, with qualifying starting on Tuesday, August 25 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Strategic Transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
- Roof Superstructure over Arthur Ashe Stadium: More than 6,000 tons of steel now surround Arthur Ashe Stadium in a technological first – constructing a stand-alone support system for a retractable roof over an existing stadium. With the final piece of steel placed in late spring, the structure that ultimately will hold the retractable roof is now in place. At the conclusion of the 2015 US Open, work will continue on the two retractable panels as well as the installation of a chilled water ventilation system to control humidity inside the stadium when the roof is closed, so that the retractable roof will be ready for the 2016 US Open. When the roof becomes fully operational, it will be the largest of any tennis stadium in the world, with a 62,500 square foot opening. Six thousand tons of steel form the superstructure, which contains 1,700 structural beams and 115,000 bolts. A total of 176 steel and concrete-filled pilings, driven 180 feet below the surface, anchor the 24 steel columns which rise 150 feet above ground to support the superstructure.
- Technological Upgrades Elevate In-Stadium Experience: The completion of the roof superstructure has allowed the USTA to upgrade all technologies within Arthur Ashe Stadium including the lights, sound and video boards. In 2015, a total of four big screens (up from two) will be utilized in the stadium. Additionally, an LED lighting system has replaced the former light towers, providing sharper, more energy-efficient lighting for competitive play. Finally, a completely new sound system has been installed throughout the stadium taking advantage of the roof trusses and catwalks.
- Grandstand Construction: Construction has begun on a new 8,000 seat Grandstand and a new food village in the southwest corner of the campus; both are slated to open in 2016. The Grandstand will provide a one-of-a-kind fan viewing experience in a completely modern and state-of-the-art stadium setting.
- West Stadium Courts and Practice Gallery: An immediate fan sensation in 2014, the West Stadium Courts and Practice Gallery will continue to be one of the most desirable fan areas in 2015. With seating for more than 3,000, fans can watch tournament action, as well as the top seeds practicing. The West Stadium Courts also will be the home of the second annual American Collegiate Invitational, which will take place from Thursday, September 10, through Saturday, September 12.
Fan Enhancements at the 2015 US Open
- “Doubles On Us” at the US Open, Thursday, September 10: For the first time at the US Open, complimentary grounds admission will be offered to all fans who come during the day of the tournament’s second Thursday, September 10. The day’s action will be filled with doubles play, including the Men’s Doubles Semifinals and Women’s Doubles Semifinals, as well as semifinal action in the Champions Invitational, a showcase of former Grand Slam tournament champions and finalists. The free grounds admission also will enable fans to watch competition in the American Collegiate Invitational, featuring top American collegiate players, taking place on the West Stadium Courts. Also on that day’s slate, the world’s top boys and girls will be competing in the US Open Junior Championships; and top wheelchair athletes will see action in the US Open Wheelchair Tennis Competition.
- Return to Traditional Grand Slam Schedule: For 2015, the US Open returns to a traditional 14-day Grand Slam tournament schedule, with the men’s first round being completed over two days rather than three. The new schedule calls for the women’s singles semifinals to be played the evening of Thursday, September 10, and the men’s singles semifinals to be played on Friday, September 11. Finals Weekend begins with the women’s singles championship on Saturday, September 12, and concludes with the men’s singles championship on Sunday, September 13.
- US Open American Express Fan Experience: Now in its fifth year, the US Open American Express Fan Experience has been completely overhauled with new technological features. One of the new offerings is “You vs. Sharapova,” where virtual reality technology and computer generated images filmed with Sharapova allows fans to play a pro at the top of her game in this simulated game. Fans will be able to try their hand at returning Sharapova’s serves, volley against her and more. Also, with “Epic Matchup,” fans and their friends will be able to star in their very own shareable video simulating a rally from the baseline in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
- Charging Stations presented by Chase: To help fans stay connected throughout the day, long-time partner Chase will be providing complimentary charging stations for phones and tablets throughout the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The stations will be located in a dedicated Chase booth near the Food Village, in the South Plaza, and on the Club Level of Arthur Ashe Stadium.
- New Food Offerings: Lavazza coffee, Jacob’s Creek wines and Juice Press cold-pressed juices join the US Open as Official Suppliers. They will be offering their products to fans on-site, and US Open-themed advertising will be visible in the New York metro area. Lavazza, the exclusive coffee of the US Open Tennis Championships, will be integrated into the on-site food and beverage experience. Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase Lavazza’s coffee drinks at the new Lavazza Cafés located in the food village and south plaza, as well as at the many restaurants, concessions and hospitality areas located throughout the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Jacob’s Creek, the Official Wine of the US Open, will feature its Two Lands product at the US Open. The wines will be available to tennis fans at a number of on-site locations throughout the tournament. Juice Press, a local favorite, will be on-site throughout the 2015 US Open selling a selection of their USDA certified organic bottled juices and smoothies to fans. Additionally, Juice Press will have the unique opportunity to serve product to players and their guests in the US Open Player Dining area.
- Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day Presented by Hess: For the 20th consecutive year, Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess, the world’s biggest tennis and entertainment celebration kicks off the US Open on Saturday, August 29, airing for the first time on the ESPN Network on Sunday, August 30 from 1:00 – 2:00 PM ET on ESPN2. This celebration of Arthur Ashe and his legacy both on and off the court is hosted by fitness guru Shaun T, and features five former US Open champions including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and defending champions Marin Cilic and Serena Williams. Musical acts who join the ranks of past Kids’ Day featured artists such as Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Jonas Brothers and more, include: Bea Miller, Kalin and Myles, Jacob Whitesides, Natalie La Rose and American Authors.
- US Open Entertainment: Internationally renowned singer-songwriter Josh Groban will perform at the Opening Night Ceremony in Arthur Ashe Stadium prior to the evening session on Monday, August 31. Groban will be accompanied by 16 musicians and perform a medley from his recent release, “Stages.” Following Groban’s performance, noted actress and performer Vanessa Williams will perform the National Anthem. Her performance will be accompanied by honor guards representing the NYPD and FDNY.
- Nightly Light Show: The USTA has installed new lighting trusses in each of the upper concourse entryways in order to conduct a nightly light show which will highlight the steel truss and catwalk system now surrounding Arthur Ashe Stadium. The light show will take place between the two evening matches in concert with the performance of “America the Beautiful” by the USTA’s Casting Call winners.
- Original Nine Celebration: USTA Chairman of the Board and President Katrina Adams will celebrate the “Original Nine,” the nine women responsible for helping to form the original professional women’s tennis tour, which ultimately evolved into the WTA as we know it today. The celebration will include a special video tribute as well as on-court recognition of these athletic pioneers.
US Open Television:
- ESPN - New Partnership: This is the first year that ESPN will be the exclusive live domestic media partner of the US Open. Over the course of the 2015 US Open, ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to air more than 130 hours of live match play with more than 1,100 hours of first-to-last ball coverage to be seen on ESPN3, which also will be available on the US Open official website -- usopen.org. ESPN will enhance its coverage with a host of cutting-edge camera systems in Arthur Ashe Stadium, including the return of Spider-Cam (to be used for the first time during the entire tournament), a new rail-cam contained within the southern baseline wall and freeD™ replay technology for the first time at a Grand Slam event.
- Increased Coverage -- 11 Courts: In an expansion of its prior US Open coverage, ESPN will feature play from 11 courts (up from seven last year). New TV courts this year include courts 4, 6, 7, and 10, which will be available for viewing over the first five days of the tournament.
- Comprehensive Schedule: ESPN will kick off its US Open coverage on Sunday, August 30 with Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess at 1:00pm and live SportsCenter at the US Open at 2:00pm ET -- both on ESPN2. Daily coverage commences on Monday, August 31 at 11:00am on ESPN3, 1:00pm on ESPN and 6:00pm on ESPN2 (all times Eastern). In addition, ESPN2 will deliver wall-to-wall coverage of Labor Day weekend from 11:00am - 11:00pm each day. Finals Weekend will culminate with the men’s singles final returning to its traditional Sunday (September 13) afternoon timeslot and the women’s singles final on Saturday (September 12) afternoon -- both finals will air on ESPN. The men’s singles semifinals will take place on Friday (September 11) afternoon, with the women’s singles semifinals scheduled for primetime on the second Thursday (September 10) night of the tournament -- also on ESPN.
US Open Digital/Social
- Live Streaming: USOpen.org will be utilizing ESPN3 for live streaming, with more than 1,100 hours of live streaming of all TV courts on ESPN3 and through the US Open app – providing a “digital grounds pass” for tennis fans.
- US Open Live Show: Fans can tune in to USOpen.org every morning at 10:45AM EST to “Inside the Baseline,” presented by IBM for a look ahead to all the day’s matches and tune in each evening at 7:00PM EST to “Beyond the Baseline,” presented by Westin Hotels & Resorts for an inside look at what goes on behind the scenes at the US Open. Fans in attendance at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center can stop by the Baseline Stage each morning and evening for the live taping.
- Open Access: Open Access is a new fan enhancement available for all US Open patrons, allowing them streamlined access to various activation points around the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The Open Access program allows fans to register to participate in activities ranging from customized photo opportunities to interactive games. Fans will receive a QR code that they will be able to scan at each location, and will receive an email with access to their own personal webpage that will showcase their US Open experience. Just for signing up for Open Access, all fans are entered to win tickets to the 2016 US Open men’s or women’s finals, and the more they scan their QR code on site, the more chances they have to win a US Open Ultimate Fan Pack.
- Twitter Mirror: For the first time, US Open fans can enjoy behind-the-scenes photos & GIFs from a new, mobile version of the Twitter Mirror. Numerous versions of the product -- from handheld Mirrors to a stationary stand -- will capture exclusive content of players & celebrities on-site throughout the tournament.
- US Open Streak Challenge: Fans can play along with the US Open Streak Challenge presented by Esurance and test their US Open tennis knowledge with two questions every day about players, matches and tournament stats. Keep answering correctly and fans will add to their streak and move up the leaderboard.
- Bloggers/Influencers: To further engage multi-cultural audiences, the USTA has partnered with five diverse bloggers and social media influencers to showcase the US Open from their own unique perspective to their respective social followings, providing special editorial content and imagery, while also extending a special ticket offer to invite these audiences to experience the US Open on their own. These influencers include Fashion Bomb Daily, Jacob Santiago, Black and Married with Kids, Kyrzada, and Street Etiquette.
The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level -- from local communities to the highest level of the professional game. A not-for-profit organization with more than 715,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game. It owns and operates the US Open, the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world, and launched the Emirates Airline US Open Series, linking seven summer tournaments to the US Open. In addition, it owns approximately 90 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S. and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games. The USTA’s philanthropic entity, the USTA Foundation, provides grants and scholarships and helps under-resourced youth and individuals with disabilities, and supports wounded, ill and injured service members, veterans and their families. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com, “like” the official Facebook page, facebook.com/usta, or follow @usta on Twitter.