Although always associated with the glitz of the Big Apple, the U.S. Open tennis tournament is usually limited to its Queens location, with views of the Manhattan skyline viewed only in long shots from the top of the stadiums. But this year’s event expanded its reach into the city: For the first time, the draw and fan fest were held at Manhattan’s South Street Seaport; the number of pre-tournament events at the hotels hosting the players seemed to multiply (and included one in which Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams played badminton at the Lotte New York Palace); and Roger Federer chose to practice one day during the first week of the tournament on the local courts in Central Park, something he later called “refreshing.”
The U.S. Open even had a presence for fans on the ride in from Manhattan, with ads for the signature cocktail (the Honey Deuce from sponsor Grey Goose) showing up along subway platforms.
There were also a number of new offerings on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. The biggest, of course, is the construction of a new Louis Armstrong Stadium, part of a five-year transformation encompassing nearly 90 percent of the grounds. With the old Armstrong stadium demolished after last year’s tournament and the new one expected to be completed next year, an 8,500-seat temporary stadium was constructed near the site and adjacent to the East Gate entrance.
Also new was a two-story structure offering a showcase for Mercedes-Benz on the first floor and a pop-up restaurant from award-winning Chicago-based chef Tony Mantuano on the second floor called Cafe Spaggia, which opened at the end of the first week of the tournament. Other new food offerings included Korilla BBQ’s Poke Yachty, Vietnamese sandwich shop Joju, Melt Shop and Creperie by Le Chef Paul. As always, the USTA touted its green initiatives, with signs noting that during last year’s Open, approximately 97 percent of the waste was diverted from landfills.
The continued improvements are obviously a hit with fans, with this year’s U.S. Open setting attendance records in the first week that included a sell-out for four days straight (August 31-September 3).