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US Open Arthur Ashe Stadium – now that’s what I call a roof!

The 2016 US open utilised a brand new $150 million roof, with the ability to open and close across the primary show court at the Arthur Ashe Stadium. It has taken over 10 years to materialise, but those who attended the first public demonstration can bear testament to its ground breaking impact.

In the past, rain delays would cause havoc at events like the open, and would interrupt the schedule of events at the 23,771 seat stadium, the biggest tennis arena in the world. USTA President and US Open Chairwoman Katrina Adams made a speech at the unveiling:

“Uh oh, did I just feel rain? Well guess what? That does not matter any more… The 2016 US Open will be truly historic. A lot of bold thinking, incredible hard work and strategic problem-solving went into getting us to this day.”

Controlling the opening and close system on the day was Jeanne Ashe, the wife of Arthur Ashe (who the stadium was legendarily named after), who was also joined by tennis star Billie Jean King. The historic moment was also viewed by US media and USTA employees.

USTA Executive Direction and Chief Operating Officer Gordon Smith showed definite pride and excitement in his speech.

“We told you the US Open deserved nothing less than the best tennis venue in the world, and we knew that the most world class of cities deserved nothing less”, he stated to a crowd consisting of USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre Operating Officer, Danny Zausner, and president of Rossetti architecture design firm, Matt Rossetti.

The roof is a magnificent 270,400 square foot, with a 63,500 square foot opening, making it the biggest of the Grand Slam venues. The roof panels weigh about 800 tonnes, and glide on 27 inch steel wheels along a track, using more than 5,500 tons of steel in its entirety. Cleverly, once the roof has completed it’s six and a half minute close, the cooling system installed in the stadium will tackle heat and humidity inside the stadium.

Fun fact: the roof is so large that it could fit Wimbledon’s Centre Court inside.

“The complexity… is mindboggling because frankly as you watch the roof in action, it’s what you don’t see that is most fascinating. There are more than four dozen sensors and computers tracking the precise movement of the roof so that to keep it in perfect alignment all along the tracks on each side as it rolls down the tracks at approximately 25 feet per minute”, Rossetti said.

The roofs construction began in 2013, and it’s grandeur is unprecedented. Each steel and concrete filled piling is 180 feet below the surface, and is capable of holding a Manhattan skyscraper on top of it. The roof itself can endure hurricane-strength winds.

Yet, the roof is only the tip of the iceberg. It is part of a larger, $550 million renovation project which will see 85% of the ground completely overhauled. It will include a new 8,125 seat grandstand stadium in the southwest corner, 10 field courts rebuilt, and a new Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Despite the excitement surrounding the newly finished contractible roof, organizers have sworn that the Open will remain an outdoor event – until circumstances call for otherwise.


Any views or opinions expressed in this briefing are for guidance only and are not intended as a substitute for appropriate professional guidance. We have taken all reasonable steps to ensure the information contained herein is accurate at the time of writing but it should not be regarded as a complete or authoritative statement of law.