The USTA occupies 46.5 acres of public parkland and pays the city about $1.5 million a year to rent the park space. The stadiums, except for the US Open and a handful of other tennis matches, sit empty the rest of the year. In a bit of a stretch, Parks Department spokeswoman Vickie Karp calls the building of a new 3,000-seat stadium a "capital improvement," a contractual term which normally refers to making improvements to an existing concession facility. A term usually not associated with building new stadiums.
"The lease holder has the right to make capital improvements. That's what is going on here," she said. - Geoffrey Croft
Billie Jean King is getting a makeover.
The Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Park, the site of the US Open, will get a brand-new 3,000-seat stadium to complement its three existing arenas, the United States Tennis Association said, according to the New York Post.
The Parks Department refused to release the preliminary designs for the new facility, but said it wouldn't require any public money and would not change the current borders beyond the 46.5 acres the tennis center already has.
It's unclear if any of the 30 public courts would be bulldozed to make room for the new facility.
"The lease holder has the right to make capital improvements. That's what is going on here," said Parks Department spokeswoman Vickie Karp.
The new stadium could be ready for side matches at this summer's US Open and will definitely open by 2012, said USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier.
But the project still needs approval from the city Design Commission, which oversees public lands.
"This stadium is not creating more free recreational opportunities for public use on what should be public parkland," said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates. "I would prefer more public-use facilities such as tennis courts or basketball courts instead of concession space."
The USTA pays the city about $1.5 million a year to rent the park space. The stadiums, except for the US Open and a handful of other tennis matches, sit empty the rest of the year.