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USTA announces beginning of expansion into green space

A rendering shows what a planned retractable roof would look like sitting atop Arthur Ashe Stadium. Rendering courtesy USTA
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The United States Tennis Association announced the first phase of a $500 million plan to renovate the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to the Queens Borough Board Monday night.

Construction will begin in February on a new retractable roof for the facility, said Danny Zausner, the chief operating officer of the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

He described the roof as an “an umbrella that can open and close.”

“That work will be done in three phases and sandwiched in the middle of those phases will be two US Opens, 2014 and 2015,” he said.

The new roof, which will be completed by August 2016, will be 190 feet at its peak and will provide cover from snow. “The intent of the roof would be that the US open would still be an outside tournament… it will still feel like you’re playing tennis in an outdoor court, because you will be,” Said Zausner.

“It still is an outdoor stadium. It just has a canopy above it.”

The USTA will also build a new grand stand for the facility that will have 8,000 seats, compared to the existing 6,000. The construction of this, however, will have to wait until an existing roadway is relocated. Zausner said he expects construction on the grand stand to start in the spring of 2014.

The existing grand stand is attached to the Louis Armstrong Stadium and the two share facilities. The new grand stand will stand on its own and will have its own infrastructure.

The USTA has also planned to build a new Louis Armstrong Stadium, but has not finished design work on it yet.

The City Council approved the USTA’s plan to expand in Flushing Meadows Corona Park after it promised to give $10 million to maintain the park space in July.

The USTA’s plan involves a 0.68 acre extension, which will accommodate increased retail and office space along with the reconstructed facilities and new stadium.

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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