U.S. Open set to be huge economic boon for New York City
Roger Federer may be aiming to break the U.S. Open record with a sixth championship, but the tournament's most consistent winner is New York City.
The annual tourney brings in more than $750 million to the Big Apple, and tournament officials predict the 23,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium will be sold out for most of the matches, which start Monday.
The U.S. Tennis Association said the games have become much more than just the final leg of the Grand Slam -- the tournament is the final major event of the summer.
"Tennis is a unique sport that combines fashion, celebrity and athleticism," Chris Widmaier, spokesman for the USTA said. "It's a tremendous platform for the city of New York."
An economic impact study commissioned by the U.S. Tennis Association last year found that the tournament generated $756 million in revenue for the city, quite a jump from 1991, when the event brought in $145 milion Officials say they expect the money to continue to grow thanks to the star power of athletes such as the Williams sisters (altough Venus isn't competing this year) and Federer.
Widmaier said the money is not only from ticket sales for the two-week tournament but also the retail, restaurants and other venues that fans come to check out while visiting Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The hotel industry always gets the biggest boost, as more than 2,500 hotel rooms, or 16% of the city's hotel occupancy, are rented out to tennis fans during the tournament, according to study.
"From the fan surveys we do on site, many of the fans live outside the New York metro area and of those 14% come from outside the U.S.," Widmaier said.
The city's Economic Development Corporation said the tournament has enhanced the city's image as a top sports destination.
"The U.S. Open has clearly proven itself to be an important economic engine for Queens and the entire city," the corporation said in a statement.
Racket lovers said the city adds a different mystique to the games. Unlike Wimbledon, fans don't have to be part of theelite to get close to the action.
"I love the first week because you can walk up, be near the athletes and feel the atmosphere," said Erica Blau, 28, of the Upper West Side, who has been to several U.S. Open matches.
Daniel Montenegro, 40, of the East Village, who has been playing tennis for years, said he also sees a different attitude in the players when they hit the courts at Arthur Ashe.
"The international players especially really get into it and love the reaction from the crowd," he said.