WATCH—Daily Serve from Day 3 of US Open Qualifying:
Danny Zausner is the Chief Operating Officer at the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows—and the man responsible for spearheading the facility's $600-million renovation. That includes the new version of Louis Armstrong Stadium that will be debuting at this year's US Open. Zausner's main objective is "to ensure that the US Open maintains its status as one of the top five sports and entertainment events in the world." And about the Open's newest attraction, he has a lot more to say.
Seating and Comfortability
First and foremost, from a fan perspective, we want fans to be as close to the court as possible. A tennis viewing experience can be two to three times longer than any other sport. Fans are spending so much time out there, and could be in Armstrong from 10 AM to 10 PM. They have to be comfortable and have some shade. If we have good weather, we don't want the sun beating down on people for 10 hours. With the upper tier on top of the lower tier, at least 60 percent of fans should be in the shade the entire time.
Architecturally, I think it is beautiful. As people come in through the gates, this is what is going to welcome you. It really is a gem. This is part of the greeting of the site and it just is going to really pop for people. It should make it even more exciting to walk around the grounds.
Controlling the Weather
This is an outdoor stadium with a retractable umbrella on top of it. Where as Arthur Ashe Stadium is a perfect square, this is more of a rectangle. The roof opening is far greater than the court surface, but it still replicates the court shape.
We used to say that we can prepare for everything except for the weather and who won. But now we know that for 38,000 people on a daily basis, we're in control of the weather. If we're going to have inclement weather then we'll just get the roofs up at both Ashe and Armstrong. We have seen the past two years what having a roof can do. We no longer have to worry about playing a Monday final. Which means we no longer have to worry about disappointing fans, players, sponsors and broadcast partners.
With the new stadium, we were able to also do some other nice things on the outside. The most important of those being some added retail space. When fans head to the Open this year, they'll be greeted by new storefronts from Wilson, Polo, Adidas and others. In addition, we also have more room to creatively offer more US Open merchandise. There will also be some new sponsor activations. And then there is even more room for some fun fan-centric events.
Bigger and Better Day/Night Sessions
With Armstrong having a roof, we're now able to promote two night sessions at the Open. That does wonders for the event, as it will make things run a lot more smoothly for all the fans in attendance. We used to have an awkward late-day session on Ashe, and that always ran the risk of running over. Now things are going to be a lot more organized and we likely won't have to worry about people waiting outside the gates to get in for too long.
But there will also be just so much for public consumption with the two stadiums. The typical fan that buys a grounds pass is hoping to not have to wait in line that long, but there will now be five matches in Armstrong. That should guarantee them that there is always something good to watch.
On top of everything, it's just going to be exciting to see night matches on Armstrong. Having two places to play some of the more exciting matches we have to offer gives fans so much to take in when they come to Flushing Meadows. And for those that choose not to come to Ashe in the evening, they'll now have another option. It should make the US Open more exciting than ever.
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