The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (NTC), conveniently located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, is the largest public tennis facility in the world. Home of the US Open, the 42 acre site is open to the public seven days a week, 11 months of the year, closing only on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The NTC opens daily at 6:00am and closes at 12:00am (11pm on Sunday).
The NTC has a staff of more than 20 USPTA and/or PTR Certified professionals conducting programs, clinics, private lessons, leagues and USTA sanctioned tournaments. The NTC also supports all USTA Community Tennis and Player Development initiatives.
In addition to 20 outdoor tennis courts available for public use, the NTC is home to a brand new, state of the art, 245,000 square foot indoor tennis facility, featuring: 12 courts on two floors, modern locker rooms, fitness center, classrooms and a tennis pro shop. The facility is also available for private events, meetings and birthday parties.
Three months into office as the 108th mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg acknowledged to former mayor and current USTA board member David Dinkins what the United States Tennis Association has known for 25 years. "You have done--to the best of my knowledge--the only good athletic sports stadium deal, not just in New York, but in the country," Bloomberg told Dinkins, during the former mayor's weekly radio show. Dinkins, New York City mayor 1990-93, had signed legislation approving the construction of Arthur Ashe Stadium while he was in office.
The USTA spent $285 million to build Arthur Ashe Stadium and to renovate Louis Armstrong Stadium and the grounds of the USTA National Tennis Center, a four-year construction project (1995-99) that spanned more than a decade, including planning. But the USTA, in fact, operates the USTA National Tennis Center for the City of New York, paying in excess of $1.5 million per year in rent. The facility remains completely public, as it has been since the association moved the US Open there from the nearby West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills in 1978.
Indeed, the USTA turned a former World's Fair site in Queens into a marvel of public and private cooperation with the opening of the USTA National Tennis Center. Today, the world marvels at the grandest stadium in all of tennis--Arthur Ashe Stadium--as it rises from the heart of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, welcoming even more people to the sport of tennis than Ashe might have imagined nearly 40 years ago, when he became the first black man to win a Grand Slam tournament.
"Through the years, many people have honored Arthur and his work," Jeanne Moutoussamy- Ashe said at the USTA news conference (Feb. 19, 1997) announcing the stadium was being named for her late husband. "All of the honors have been very flattering and much appreciated. But I think Arthur would be extremely proud of this honor because he was very committed to the USTA and to helping it create opportunities for those who need them most."
"I want people to see this and dream big and go for it," said King, who won four US Open/U.S. National women's singles titles, on the night the facility was renamed in her honor. "It's great to be side-by-side with Arthur Ashe, he dreamed big too. I can't resist. Mi casa es su casa. My house is your house. This is our house! Love you New York, thank you so much and go for it!"
Arthur Ashe Stadium and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center allow up to 33,000 fans to watch the greatest tennis in the world during each session of the US Open. That's about twice the number of fans who attended the largest session of the 1968 US Open, which Ashe won at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills.
Such growth has been--and continues to be--a boon to US Open revenues, which directly fund the USTA's community tennis programs nationwide. Arthur Ashe Stadium, since opening on August 23, 1997, has generated as much praise as the US Open has money. It has been called "a Lincoln Center for jocks" and "a Xanadu for not just tennis but for sports."
NEW AND IMPROVED SINCE 1997
Designed by Rossetti Associates Architects, the same Birmingham, Mich., firm that designed the Tennis Center at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, Fla., home of the Sony Ericsson Open and the former headquarters of USTA Player Development, Arthur Ashe Stadium features state-of-the-art broadcast and audio systems, 90 luxury suites, five restaurants and a two-level player's lounge.
The individual seating, increased restroom facilities and increased concession stands are among the most visible differences between Arthur Ashe Stadium and its predecessor, Louis Armstrong Stadium. But the more subtle differences include loge box seating that is almost 10 feet closer to the center of the court, a two-fold increase in the number of entranceways for fans with upper-level seats and a 30-fold increase in seating availability for people in wheelchairs.
Arthur Ashe Stadium can be adapted to hold other events besides tennis. One completely hidden feature of Arthur Ashe Stadium that is sure to enhance its functionality is the hydraulic system within sections 38 and 39 of the north courtside seats. These hydraulics can raise the sections high enough to allow vehicles to be driven onto the court, making it possible, for example, for center court to be converted into a beach volleyball court with the help of just a few dump trucks. In fact, in 2008, Arthur Ashe Stadium hosted the WNBA's N.Y. Liberty and Indiana Fever in the first regular season outdoor game in pro basketball history on the grounds of the US Open.
The USTA is permitted to use the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for its own events, including the US Open, for no more than 60 days a year, ensuring the facility's use by the public for 10 months.
In actuality, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is open to the public seven days a week, 11 months a year, closing only on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Annual events held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in addition to the US Open include the Eastern Wheelchair Tennis Championships and the Mayor's Cup high school tennis championships. The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center staff conducts community tennis programs, summer tennis camps, group and private lessons and USTA programs.
Expansion of the USTA National Tennis Center has increased the number of outdoor courts available for public play to 30. This does not include Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium or the Grandstand. In addition, there are 12 indoor courts for public use following the completion of the new Indoor Tennis Center in December 2008.
MORE THAN JUST THE HOME OF THE US OPEN:
YEAR-ROUND NTC TENNIS PROGRAMS
The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (NTC) in Flushing, N.Y., home of the US Open, is the world's largest and busiest public tennis facility. The facility offers 31 outdoor and 12 indoor courts with a staff of more than 20 USPTA and/or PTR-certified professionals conducting programs, clinics, private lessons, leagues and tournaments year-round. The NTC also supports all USTA Community Tennis and Player Development initiatives.
The USTA pays the City of New York more than $1.5 million per year in rent and is permitted to use the NTC for its own events, including the US Open, for no more than 60 days a year, ensuring the facility's use by the public for 10 months. In actuality, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is open to the public seven days a week, 11 months a year, closing only on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
Community Tennis initiatives include:
- QuickStart Tennis for children 10 & under to learn tennis in a fun and dynamic way
- USTA Jr. Team Tennis for youth match play
- USTA League Tennis for competitive, level-of-play competition
- An official Cardio Tennis site for on-court heart pumping fitness
Player Development initiatives include:
- Invitational USTA Competition Training Center (CTC) for ranked players
- Player Development programs for top-ranking juniors residing in the Northeast
- Year-round USTA Tournament Training Program (TTP) for ranked juniors
Key annual tournaments and events include:
- Both the USTA BJK NTC Men's and Women's College Tennis Invitational (featuring many of the top-ranking college programs in the nation) and other ITA college events and conference championships
- The USTA Men's and Women's National Open Indoor Championships (where the "gold ball" winners earn wild cards into USTA Pro Circuit Futures events)
- The Jana Hunsaker Memorial Eastern Wheelchair Championships, an ITF event
- USTA-sanctioned junior tournaments for every age group at the district, regional, sectional and national levels, including the "USTA BJK NTC Summer Classic" (the second-largest tournament held annually at the USTA BJK NTC)
Regional tournaments and events include:
- Several USTA Eastern events and activities, including the Family Grassroots Challenge, the Competition Training Center Rally, the Zone Team Training Camp, the College Tennis Showcase, the "Open For Business" Corporate Challenge and the Jr. Team Tennis Sectional
- New York State Public High School State Championships
- New York Junior Tennis League (NYJTL) and New York City Parks Foundation programs for junior and senior players
- The annual "Mayor's Cup" all-scholastic NYC championships for boys and girls, from middle schools and high schools, in singles, doubles and team competitions
- USTA-sanctioned tournaments for adults and seniors
Coaches Training and Education
- United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) functions, including four Certification Training Courses and Developmental Coaches Workshops each year, annual meetings and conventions; also, at least four Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) Teaching Essentials Workshops and Professional Development Workshops
Other noteworthy events held at the NTC include:
- WNBA's First Regular Season Outdoor Game: the Liberty Outdoor Classic, July 2008
- 90th Annual American Tennis Association (ATA) National Championships, July 2007
- 80th Annual National Public Parks Tennis Championships, July 2006
- 1999 Invacare World Team Cup (wheelchair equivalent of Davis Cup and Fed Cup)
- USTA League Tennis National Championships (5.0 and 2.5 levels), 1997 and 1998
- 1981 Davis Cup World Group Quarterfinal (United States d. Czechoslovakia, 4-1)