For years, the U.S. Open was the antidote to Wimbledon and Roland Garros' fussiness (the Australian was basically just irrelevant and a big Whatever). At the Open there were ungodly late matches, bigger stadiums, the made-for-TV scheduling bonanza in Super Saturday, loud music, longer commercial breaks. It was, by far and away, the most modern Grand Slam.
Anyway, that's all over. The U.S. Open is officially on its way to becoming the oldest and most fuddy-duddy Grand Slam.
The USTA has laid out a $500 million plan on how it wants to fix up the grounds in Flushing. They will knock down some old stadiums (the Grandstand and Louis Armstrong are dunzo—thanks Andy Roddick), build a few new ones and yet…there's still one big issue: There are no plans to build a roof over Ashe.
This is a structural problem more than a financial one. Thanks to the fact that Ashe is built on one giant swamp there is virtually no way to put a roof over it, to spare the Open from schedule-wrecking rainouts.
It's unfortunate. The Australian has two stadiums with a roof (a third is coming), Wimbledon has had one for three years and the French will gets its roof in five years. As we saw with the French earlier this week (or with the Open for each of the last four years), Monday finals are brutal. Ratings for the matches drop, and broadcast networks like CBS broadcast them very, very reluctantly (and sometimes they don't bother airing them!).
The USTA built Arthur Ashe Stadium in 1997 and now will be stuck with the roofless stadium for decades and decades.
And, hey, we know things are tough over there right now but don't blame us. For the last five years, I've covered the U.S. Open without incident for The New York Observer and Women's Wear Daily (neither publication exactly known for its sports coverage). A couple of months ago I move over to Deadspin…and huh! The USTA doesn't want to be associated with a sports blog. I applied for a credential, as I have done for each of the last five years, last month. A few minutes ago, I got this email:
Dear John Koblin:
It is with great regret that we are unable to accommodate your request(s) for media credentials for the 2012 US Open. The number of applications we have received well exceeds our allotted space for media. The following applicants will not be credentialed for the 2012 US Open:
John Koblin, Editor
Please feel free contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.
Sincerely, Jeanmarie Daly Manager, Publicity Operations
Will the $500 million expansion plan include one little seat for Deadspin? Why don't we rate? What's up, USTA?