Cuomo Green-Lights Plan To Expand National Tennis Center

Cuomo Green-Lights Plan To Expand National Tennis Center

Gov. Cuomo last week approved the USTA's plan to expand its facility in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. File Photo

Gov. Cuomo last week approved the USTA’s plan to expand its facility in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. File Photo

Gov. Cuomo gave his stamp of approval for the United States Tennis Association’s plan to expand its complex in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, following the City Council’s move to green-light the proposal to replace two stadiums and add thousands of seats in exchange for ongoing funding for the park for years to come.

Cuomo announced last Friday that he signed the legislation to expand and improve the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, saying the legislation will enable critical infrastructure repairs, allow more fans to attend major tournaments and create more than 1,500 construction and full-time jobs.

“As the site of the U.S. Open, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center brings thousands of fans to New York every year, boosting our tourism industry and spurring local economic activity,” Cuomo said as the world-renowned tennis tournament was being held in the Queens facility. “New York is proud to showcase the biggest players in tennis at this annual event, and I am committed to making this facility the best it can be to attract and host more events like the U.S. Open.”

The thumbs-up from Cuomo now allows the USTA to expand the tennis center by adding 0.68 acres to the 42 acres it already owns. As part of the plan, the USTA will also return 1.56 acres of land to the city Parks Department for public recreational use.

Following negotiations with the City Council, including Councilwoman JulissaFerreras (D-East Elmhurst), who represents the area that includes the tennis center, the USTA agreed to, beginning in 2014, provide $10.05 million for Flushing Meadows Corona Park – including $5 million for capital projects; $350,000 a year for three years for maintenance and programms; and $200,000 annually for the next two decades. The Council voted 47-1 in late July to permit the group to expand. The only legislator to vote against the proposal was Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), who said his constituents were against further development in Flushing Meadows.

The USTA’s $500 million expansion plan includes tearing down two aging stadiums built for the 1964 World’s Fair and replacing them, as well as adding seats and more parking.

In addition to the $10.05 million, the USTA – which runs the U.S. Open – agreed to provide a series of other items, including quarterly presentations on events and available jobs at the National Tennis Center and an annual “Queens Day,” which would likely be held during the U.S. Open qualifying tournament and would feature a performances from Queens bands and opportunities for the public to participate in tennis-related games and activities.

The USTA also agreed to run an annual U.S. Open job fair exclusively for Queens residents, hold auditions each year for U.S. Open anthem singers in Queens, and host school graduations.

“The USTA is proud of its rich history in New York, which dates back to 1915,” said Dave Haggerty, USTA chairman of the board and president. “As the world’s largest annual sporting event, the U.S. Open is proud to bring worldwide attention to the city and state that it calls home, and is pleased that this legislation will allow the longstanding tradition to continue.”

Lawmakers also praised the governor’s decision to approve the proposal.

“The U.S. Open is the premier sporting event in Queens, when the eyes of the world are on us,” Assemblyman JeffrionAubry (D-Corona) said. “This expansion will secure the excitement and tradition of world class tennis in our community and state for both today’s tennis fans and those of the future.”

By Anna Gustafson


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