U.S. Open serves up a big economic boost to NYC
Forget the World Series, the Super Bowl or even a Justin Bieber concert, the most lucrative annual event in the city is the U.S. Open. This year's tournament, as usual, will serve up a major boon to the city's economy.
More than $720 million in economic activity is generated for the city during the tournament and the U.S. Tennis Association said a lot of that money comes from fans checking out the Big Apple's sights and sounds.
By comparison, the Super Bowl -- which will be played in the New York area for the first time in February, at MetLife Stadium -- generates $430 million for its host city.
The tournament's officials say the two-week event has grown in popularity because of the great competition and due to the fact that the energy has trickled down to other areas of the city.
"At the end of the day this is a world-class event," said USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier. Of the 700,000 expected fans flocking to Flushing Meadows, 40% will come from outside the New York City area, Widmaier said. Tickets were sold quickly soon after they were made available in the spring. Widmaier said fans will get a great bang for their buck not just because the U.S. Open is the only American Grand Slam tournament. There are other great experiences to be had at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, from shopping to fine dining and play areas for kids.
"We have been able to build a sports and entertainment venue for fans," he said.
The event is truly unique, said Chelsea resident Alex Georgiou, 23, who has been to four U.S. Opens and several tennis tournaments around the world.
"To watch a match at night, under the lights, which only happens at the Open, is quite fun. Especially after work," the UK native said.
Beyond the tennis center, Queens hugely benefits from the tournament, as guests and ticket holders flock to nearby areas in the borough, Widmaier said. "That means more hotel stays, entertainment, cabs and more economic activity for the city," he said.
The U.S. Open has played a major role in growing tennis' popularity over the last decade, thanks to amazing matches from stars such as Andy Murray, the Williams sisters and Roger Federer, Widmaier added.
Maureen Cantara, of the East Village, said the top tennis players seem to really feed off the New York energy.
"I've seen their athleticism increase at the Open," she said. "The matches are bigger and more spontaneous too."
First Lady Michelle Obama highlighted this weekend's Arthur Ashe Kid's Day and is indicative of how big of an event the games are for the city, Widmaier said.
"We're in the capital of the world. Media capital, business capital and it's a place that attracts people," he said. "It elevates the experience."
Once the US Open kicks off Monday, New Yorkers will have tennis on the brain for the next two weeks, and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center has more than enough new attractions this year to hold match-goers’ attention.
New restaurants, fan entertainment, social media integration and more can be found at the center this year, headlined by a performance from Lenny Kravitz.
If you’re lucky enough to nab a ticket, here’s what’s new at the Open this year:
-- Lenny Kravitz: The Grammy-award-winning rocker is set to headline this year’s opening night ceremony, performing “Are You Gonna Go My Way” inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, accompanied by expansive light and video displays.
-- Heineken House: Last year, Heineken helped build a two-story building housing the Heineken Red Star Café, and this year it is expanding with Heineken House, a new lounge above the food village for fans to relax in.
-- Restaurants: A new Oyster Bar will be open on the club level of Arthur Ashe, and it will have daily specials, including oysters, lobster rolls and shrimp cocktails. The Mojito Restaurant also has been revamped for this year’s tournament, and Hill Country BBQ will be serving up barbecue in the food village.
-- Social media video wall: A massive 50-foot-by- 8-foot video wall next to Louis Armstrong Stadium will display social media posts from fans in real time, pulling from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
-- American Express Fan Experience: Fans can test their own tennis swings and see and hear them digitally translated into works of art and music, as well as get instruction and check out gaming stations and a full practice court.
U.S. Open directions
Tennis fans can get to the US Open in Flushing Meadows by taking the No. 7 train and the Long Island Rail Road.
The No. 7 train stops at Mets-Willets Point near the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where the US Open has been held since 1978. Riders can also take the LIRR to the Mets-Willets Point stop next to the tennis center.