Roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium still possible

by: Matt Cronin | March 20, 2013

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A roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium, once considered near impossible, may be in the U.S. Open’s future.

At the recent USTA Annual Meeting, Executive Director Gordon Smith gave a presentation that said it is possible that the upper bowl of the stadium, which is mostly made of concrete, could be knocked down and replaced with a lighter weight material. USTA engineers have consistently stated that, as currently constructed, Arthur Ashe Stadium would be impossible to cover with a roof because the upper bowl makes up 60 percent of the weight of the stadium, and that the foundation could not support the additional weight of a roof.

But as first reported by Daily Tennis, there is a possibility that a Sandwich Plate System (SPS) -- a new composite material technology that is lightweight and is comprised of two metal plates and an elastomer core -- could be installed, and it could be light enough and strong enough to support a roof. However, the combination of an SPS upper deck and the roof cannot exceed the current weight of the upper bowl.

Cost is also an issue, especially in light of the USTA significantly increasing prize money at the U.S. Open, as well as its $500 million-plus expansion and reconstruction plans of other areas of the site. USTA engineers are currently studying the SPS options.

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