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USTA confirms $550m National Tennis Center stadiums and retractable roof

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The USTA has announced its plans for a sweeping transformation of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center that will include the construction of two new stadiums, as well as a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The facility will be able to accommodate an extra 10,000 people each day during the US Open, increasing attendance by approximately 1,200,000 visitors.

USTA Chairman of the Board and President Dave Haggerty said:

We have been working toward a viable design for a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium for more than a decade. Through a long and arduous process, we feel that we now have a design that meets the criteria of being architecturally sound, aesthetically pleasing, reasonably affordable, and buildable.

Gordon Smith, USTA Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, added:

We have an aggressive construction agenda for the entire National Tennis Center, with a new Grandstand Court built in time for the 2015 US Open, new retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium by 2017, and a new Louis Armstrong Stadium opening for the 2018 US Open. We recognize there are many known, and certainly many unknown, hurdles we will have to confront to meet this schedule. We are ready for the challenge and hope we can achieve it.

The cost for the transformation is estimated at $550 million, including the cost of the retractable roof, estimated at $150 million. As it has done with improvements to the National Tennis Center in the past, the USTA will self-finance the entire cost of this transformation through a combination of bonds and USTA revenue generation. Since 1994, the USTA has invested more than $500 million in improvements to the site.

In addition to the roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium, phase one of construction is scheduled to include the shifting of the existing practice courts and two tournament courts to the north. This will allow the construction of an expanded viewing area for the practice courts and the three new tournament courts. This enhanced fan experience will require the re-building of the current transportation facilities located adjacent to Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The retractable roof is being designed by ROSSETTI, the designer and architect of Arthur Ashe Stadium. The USTA has hired Hunt Construction Group to build the retractable roof structure. As designed, the retractable roof constructed of flexible, translucent PTFE fabric stretched over a steel frame, will be supported by eight steel columns surrounding Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Phase two of the transformation will be anchored by the construction of a new 8,000-seat Grandstand Stadium in the southwest quadrant of the Tennis Center. Simultaneously, field courts 7 through 16 will be moved south so that a larger pedestrian and fan esplanade can be created, better connecting the new Grandstand with Court 17. This southern expansion also allows the USTA to further enhance the fan experience, with a new additional food court, new merchandise locations and sponsor exhibit booths, and other fan amenities across the southern expanse of the Tennis Center.

The project’s final phase will include the construction of a new 15,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium. The USTA expects final design work for Armstrong to be completed in the next 12 to 18 months. The targeted completion date of the stadium, which will be built “roof-ready,” is August 2018. Also during the third phase, the USTA will complete a series of upgrades to the East Entrance, the most trafficked entry point to the US Open.

João Havelange Olympic Stadium closes in public safety scare

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Rio de Janeiro city officials have been forced to temporarily close the stadium which will host the athletics competitions at the 2016 Olympic Games because of structural problems with its roof.

João Havelange Olympic Stadium.

João Havelange Olympic Stadium.

The João Havelange Olympic Stadium was completed during a last-minute race to finish venues in time for the Panamerican Games. Construction of the stadium began in September 2003 and was completed in June 2007. Project engineering was provided by Andrade Rezende.

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes said he decided to close the venue immediately after constructors who have been monitoring the stadium’s roof notified him of the structural problems.

Paes said:

I asked them if these problems posed a threat to fans and the answer was ‘Yes,’ depending on circumstances such as wind velocity and temperature. There was a risk, so I decided to close the stadium immediately until we have more details about the solution that we will need.

“The Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee has full confidence that the city of Rio de Janeiro will take the necessary measures to guarantee that the Olympic Stadium is ready for the games more than three years from now, as well as for the test events before them,” the organising committee said in a statement.

The stadium is expected to be upgraded from 46,000 to a 60,000-capacity venue for the Olympics, when temporary seating sections will be added.