Tennis fans praise plans for Arthur Ashe stadium roof

A handout rendering of the USTA's planned improvements to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. (Aug. 15, 2013)

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Tennis fans who have tired of rainouts in each of the last five years at the U.S. Open were happy to hear of the plans for a retractable roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"Having a retractable roof makes a lot of sense. There's big money in this and it always rains," tennis fan Marilyn Reichstein, 72, of Forest Hills said Monday.

Her husband, Steve, agreed.



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"A lot of people come a long distance, cross-country," to see tennis greats like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Serena Williams play at the U.S. Open.

"We wouldn't want to disappoint them, would we?" he said. "We're New Yorkers; we want to make it happen."

The rainouts had led to five straight Monday tournament finishes at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

USTA officials said the new roof at Ashe Stadium will be in place by 2017 and allow the venue to continue to thrive in New York City, which they called "the most competitive" sports market in the world.

USTA officials first rolled out their plan to add retractable roofs to both the 23,000-seat Ashe Stadium and the 10,500-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium earlier this month as part of a $550 million tennis center expansion and improvement project slated to be completed in 2018.

The Ashe roof, made of Teflon fabric, will be nearly 200,000 square feet, more than three times the roof size over Centre Court at Wimbledon and will open and close in five minutes.

The roof, which will come at an estimated cost of more than $100 million, will be financed through a combination of bonds and revenue generated by the USTA, according to officials.

Sue Schneider, a longtime tennis fan from Larchmont, said the new cover is much-needed for fans, players and organizers.

"The end of the summer is hurricane season," she said, "and it just puts a lot of pressure on everybody -- the players particularly," Schneider, 64, said.

"How does a city like New York go so long without a retractable roof?" said Stanley Greenberg, 78, of Jericho.

Friend and tennis fan Bill Feldman, 85, of Jericho, agreed, saying: "We've been going to the U.S. Open for so many years, but now we've stopped coming because when it rains and you get caught in it, you gotta go home."

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