The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens hosts the country's premier tennis event, but the people behind the center say it is time for a large-scale, half-billion-dollar upgrade of the facility. NY1's Vivian Lee filed the following report.
The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators to the U.S. Open each year, and the people behind the center say they will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to keep it at the top of its game.
It is a major overhaul that officials say will take years to complete.
"It opens up our venue like never before, it will enhance fans ability to see more tennis. There will be more seats for fans, will make the center an entirely new experience," said Gordon Smith of the United States Tennis Association.
The redesign involves tearing down the old Grandstand Stadium in the northeast corner and rebuilding it on the southwest corner of the lot.
Louis Armstrong Stadium will be renovated and Arthur Ashe Stadium's infrastructure will be improved.
There will be more parking spaces, pedestrian walkways and even an observation deck over the practice courts.
The changes will allow 800,000 people onto the site during the U.S. Open, 100,000 more than now, which could add a significant financial boost to what the tennis tournament currently injects into the local economy.
"The U.S. Open brings $750 million in economic impact to the City of New York every year and we are in competition with all of the other sporting venues in the New York area," said Gordon. "As you know, there are many more newly built venues. We've got to keep up with that."
The USTA says the whole project will cost a half-billion dollars, which still has to be raised. But it will be some time before the overhaul kicks off.
After the approval process, officials hope construction can begin by 2013 and be finished within eight years, with work being done during the downtime between U.S. Open tournaments.