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Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

Flushing Meadows, NY

Home of the US Open

3.9

4.0

Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (map it)
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Flushing Meadows, NY 11368


US Open website

Billie Jean King National Tennis Center website

Year Opened: 1997

Capacity: 46,900

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Flushing Queen's Fabulous Tennis Stadium

The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center has hosted the U.S. Open since 1978 when the tournament moved from Forest Hills. As the event grew in size, so did the venue, with new courts being added to handle increasing crowds. That trend continued in 2016 with a gleaming new grandstand opening in the southwest corner of the NTC. But that is not the highlight of this year's tournament, it is the new retractable roof that adorns Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The roof is the centerpiece of a 9-year plan that reimagines the entire campus of the NTC. Led by Detroit-based architectural firm Rossetti, the $550-million project includes dozens of new concessions and amenities including the new Louis Armstrong Stadium that is scheduled to open in time for the 2018 tournament.

Still, it is the new roof creating buzz this year; it makes Arthur Ashe Stadium stand out, even with Citi Field just across the street. From afar, it looks like a giant spaceship has landed in Flushing Meadows, but the final result is quite impressive given that the stadium was never designed to carry the load of a roof. Though it is wholly independent of the structure beneath, the roof appears to be an integral part of the venue.

Two retractable panels, each weighing a million pounds, can open and close within 10 minutes, thus ensuring the tournament will not be subject to the vagaries of New York's late summer weather. The tournament sees over 750,000 fans attending over two weeks, and this redesign will make visiting the NTC an even better experience for everyone.

3.9

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    5

There are countless concession stands on the grounds, offering all variety of stadium food and more. Tennis matches attract a more upscale crowd than other sports, thus reflected in the options and pricing. Bottles of Evian are $4.50 for 500 ml for example, while a glass of champagne is $25.

Each of the larger stadiums have their own concession stands, where you can find more typical fare such as hamburgers ($7.75) and nachos ($7.50), to name a few. The main sponsor Heineken is available in 16 oz. cans for $9, while other draft beers are $9.75. Coca-Cola provides the soda and other beverages, a fountain soda costing $5.50.

Outside of the stadiums, the US Open Food Village has 17 specialty stands for those wishing to grab and go. A few of the names include Hill Country BBQ, Prime Burger, Angry Taco, Glatt Kosher, and Fuku. Another food village can be found next to the new grandstand.

There are also five alfresco cafes open to the public and two full-service restaurants that require reservations. All in all, you will not have trouble finding something to your liking here.

Note that small amounts of food are permitted to be brought in, certainly useful if you are planning to spend the day here and want to save a bit of money.

Atmosphere    5

There are currently 18 courts around the National Tennis Center, ranging from Arthur Ashe Stadium (23,000) down to the smallest courts that hold just a few hundred fans. Regardless of when you visit, you can expect the grounds to be teeming with fans making their way to another court, or just wandering about soaking in the feeling. It is a very active scene and the energy is palpable from the moment you enter the grounds.

As you wander, you can hear the shouts of fans from courts far away, leading you to wonder what is going on there. Fear not, plenty of TV screens will keep you informed should you not be inside one of the larger stadiums. Adding in all the attractions and amenities, this is a unique sporting event, one that should be experienced even if you are not a die-hard tennis fan.

Neighborhood    3

The NTC is located in the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park neighborhood of Queens. This is where both the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs were held, and there are still remnants in the area, including the iconic Unisphere to the south of the grounds, with the Queens Museum just beside it. The Queens Zoo and New York Hall of Science are also nearby.

The home of the New York Mets Citi FIeld is just a short walk over the bridge, and they do play while the tournament is on, so you can spend a day at the tennis and then walk over for a baseball nightcap.

There isn't much in the way of eateries in the immediate vicinity, but just one stop to the east is Flushing's Main Street, which is the center of Chinatown in Queens and thus has a number of fantastic dim sum establishments. Heading west along the 7 train, any stop will have a few restaurants, but the Woodside-61st Street station has perhaps the best bar selections-Donovan's Pub and Sean Og Tavern.

Close to Queensboro Plaza is the Baroness, which boasts one of the best hamburgers in the city and a strong selection of craft beer. Of course, you can continue on the 7 all the way to Grand Central and Times Square and all the assorted entertainment found there.

Fans    4

Tennis fans are a very passionate lot and they turn out in droves for this tournament every single year. They know the game and cheer at the right times, often supporting both players in a tight match. However, New York fans are not quite as polite as those at other Grand Slam events around the world.

Tennis affords plenty of breaks for you to get your food and drink, so use them. Even those in the seats next to the court are repeatedly warned to take their seats in a timely fashion after a break. In the upper deck, fans talk during points, and the new roof makes things worse, particularly when it is closed as voices reflect off it and down to the court, leading to more delays.

Access    4

There are two ways to get to Flushing Meadows from Manhattan: Long Island Rail Road ($6 or $8.25 during the evening rush hour) and the 7 subway train, which is a bit cheaper at $2.75 (take a 7 express train if attending the night session). From Mets-Willets Point, you walk south for a few minutes before reaching the main entrance. Expect a line up here if you are attending the night session as you have to pass through security, but once inside, you can move about the grounds with ease.

Getting into and out of Ashe can take a little bit of time, particularly if everybody decides to leave after the first match, when they do not allow you to exit through an open entrance as other fans might be making their way in. The general admission seats in the other stadiums can also be crowded when big names are playing. Otherwise they are quite empty and a good choice if you want a bit of space to yourself.

The stadiums themselves have wide concourses and plenty of breezeways to get into the seats, and restrooms are never busy.

Return on Investment    3

There are several types of ticket available that vary widely in price depending on when you go and where you sit. Any ticket to Arthur Ashe Stadium will be for a reserved seat, but will also include general admission to the Grandstand and Louis Armstrong Stadium. Similarly, you can buy a reserved seat in Armstrong and get into the Grandstand, or a reserved seat in the Grandstand. All tickets include grounds admission, but there is also a grounds. It's the only ticket that allows you into any unreserved court and is a great option early on when many high seeds play outside of Ashe.

Until the final weekend, matches on Ashe are separated into day and night sessions, and the day session is the bargain because you can stay until all the tennis is complete, missing only the night matches on Ashe. In fact, the night session is the least economical investment because you will only see two matches, with the later match usually finishing after all the other matches have been completed. Note that you cannot enter the grounds until after 6:00pm with a night session ticket.

Prices are all over the place, and the secondary market is often a good spot to find a deal, particularly since many fans buy a package to ensure seats to the finals and then try to sell tickets to the early days of the tournament.

The best advice is to get a day pass in the first few days of the tournament when the courts are pretty full and you should see most of the big names playing singles. These start at $80 and are a great investment as you can get 12 hours of tennis for a very low price. However, when averaging in the cost of good seats on Ashe, which can run into the thousands, the overall score for this section is merely average.

Extras    3

One star for the many fan experiences scattered around the grounds that you really need to spend a day here to see them all. There are product demos, appearance by past stars, tennis drills and games, and a radio show just to name a few. You can also see current stars practicing on one of the many practice courts, usually on their off days.

An additional star for the large bracket next Arthur Ashe Stadium which is updated as players advance through the tournament.

And third, for the celebrities in Section 2. To illustrate the difference between the U.S. Open and other sports, the two celebrities who got the loudest reaction at the match during our visit were Anna Wintour and Vera Wang.

Final Thoughts

Any tennis fan will consider the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center as a must-see venue and it is hard to disagree with that. If you visit on the first two days, you can see every top name in the game, while if you go later in the tournament, you will see top-quality tennis as players vie for the final major title of the year.

With the new roof ensuring that top matches will be played regardless of weather, and the overall redesign giving fans so much more choice, spending a day here has to be one of the best sports travel options in the country.

Gotta to here

The US Open, and all of the tennis Grand Slams have been a lifetime dream of mine. So glad to see this review, and I look forward to more tennis reviews as the site grows...

by paul | Sep 12, 2011 01:27 PM

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Crowd Reviews

Aces in the Big Apple

Total Score: 3.86

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 2
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 5

The US Open is exactly what it's cracked up to be: the biggest matches on the biggest stage, loud, massive hype, long lines, and best of all, drama under the lights! While steroids in the game of tennis may be illegal, tennis itself is all jacked up on steroids in New York City. In more ways than one, the Open fits in very well with the persona and lifestyle of the city in which it resides.

The United States Open is one of four prestigious ATP and WTA Grand Slam events where the winner is awarded 2,000 points towards their overall world ranking. The event is held at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, a spectacular tennis facility, which includes a grand total of 28 hard courts, nuzzled right into Flushing Meadows Park. The heart of the property is Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis specific stadium in the world with a capacity of 23,700. Previous center court, Louis Armstrong Stadium, is just to the east of Ashe and it seats 10,200, with the lower bowl reserved for individual ticket sales.

Literally in the shadows of Armstrong, Grandstand Court offers the coziest feel where a fan can seemingly be right in the action. The fourth largest stadium and newest, court 17, will boast the ability to host big matches in a very small area. Grandstand and court 17 have capacities of 6,000 and 3,000 respectively. Most impressively, the facility offers 4 additional small 1,000-seat stadium courts which accommodate good crowds for matches all over the grounds.

King of New York (for 2 weeks at least)

Total Score: 4.14

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

Tickets are now $71+ for the early day sessions including admission to Ashe. This is a great deal, I spent over 10 hours on site and saw bits and pieces of at least 6 matches. Food and drink can be expensive, the $5.50 smoothies are a good bet, but bring your own water and fill up the bottles at one of the many water fountains.

Too many people move around during the breaks between games and this causes traffic jams and sometimes you are forced down the stairs, so be careful when trying to change seats. There is a ledge between Armstrong and the Grandstand that provides a unique view.

Not much in the immediate vicinity, but Queens and Manhattan are nearby. Easy to get to on the 7 train from Grand Central.

All in all, well worth a day's visit. I recommend the earlier days, from the 4th Thursday to the Labour Day Monday.

Flushing Queen's Fabulous Tennis Stadium

Total Score: 3.86

  • Food & Beverage: 5
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 3

The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center has hosted the U.S. Open since 1978 when the tournament moved from Forest Hills. As the event grew in size, so did the venue, with new courts being added to handle increasing crowds. That trend continued in 2016 with a gleaming new grandstand opening in the southwest corner of the NTC. But that is not the highlight of this year’s tournament, it is the new retractable roof that adorns Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The roof is the centerpiece of a 9-year plan that reimagines the entire campus of the NTC. Led by Detroit-based architectural firm Rossetti, the $550-million project includes dozens of new concessions and amenities including the new Louis Armstrong Stadium that is scheduled to open in time for the 2018 tournament.

Still, it is the new roof creating buzz this year; it makes Arthur Ashe Stadium stand out, even with Citi Field just across the street. From afar, it looks like a giant spaceship has landed in Flushing Meadows, but the final result is quite impressive given that the stadium was never designed to carry the load of a roof. Though it is wholly independent of the structure beneath, the roof appears to be an integral part of the venue.

Two retractable panels, each weighing a million pounds, can open and close within 10 minutes, thus ensuring the tournament will not be subject to the vagaries of New York’s late summer weather. The tournament sees over 750,000 fans attending over two weeks, and this redesign will make visiting the NTC an even better experience for everyone.

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