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NEW YORK, Aug 15 (Reuters) - The centre court at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the main venue for the U.S. Open, and the adjacent Louis Armstrong arena are to have retractable roofs installed, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said on Thursday.
The move will bring the U.S. Open into line with Wimbledon and the Australian Open which both have retractable roofs on their centre courts. The French Open has announced plans to cover its main court.
“There will be a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium,” Dave Haggerty, the USTA’s chairman of the board, said during a news conference set up to detail plans for a major overhaul of New York’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“Louis Armstrong Stadium will have a roof as well.”
Bad weather has wrought havoc with the U.S. Open schedule in recent years with the men’s final, including last year’s epic between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, being pushed back from Sunday to Monday for the past five years.
Despite frequent calls for a roof, last year the USTA ruled out including one as part of the redevelopment, citing logistical issues.
Opened in 1997, Arthur Ashe Stadium has a 22,500 capacity, making it by far the largest tennis arena in the world but some, such as four-times U.S. Open champion John McEnroe, argued a smaller venue with a roof would have made more sense.
The scale of the arena has been one of the main logistical challenges that has emerged from feasibility studies with the USTA previously saying a roof would be “technically complex and financially challenging”.
This year’s U.S. Open, which starts on Aug. 26, has a Monday finish included as the official final day for the first time.
The switch to a scheduled Monday finish, unique among the four grand slam events, has been criticised by the men’s governing body, the ATP. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Tony Jimenez)