Tennis News Wire -
This year’s innovative Opening Night ceremony will include an immersive video and light show in Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first time and will feature a live performance of the song “Celebrate” by pop star Jordin Sparks. The hit song is from the movie “Sparkle,” in which Sparks stars alongside the late Whitney Houston, in Houston’s final film performance. Houston opened Arthur Ashe Stadium 15 years ago with a performance of “One Moment in Time” in front of a sold-out crowd and a parade of former US Open champions.
The USTA has finished construction on its newest show court – Court 17 – for this year’s tournament. The court has full television broadcast capabilities, state-of-the-art video screens and includes the Chase Review electronic line calling system. With a capacity of 2,800, Court 17 is the fourth-largest spectator court at the US Open. The pavilion around Court 17 will include new attractions for fans, including Bar 17, a casual outdoor setting replete with TVs, and the return of the popular player photo wall, where fans can take pictures next to life-sized images of their favorite players.
Below is a comprehensive list of the major activities, new programs, offerings and fan enhancements at the 2012 US Open, which takes place from August 27 to September 9 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, N.Y.
US Open Qualifying Tournament Live on CBS Sports Network: The US Open Qualifying Tournament is a free week of tennis, starting Tuesday, August 21, and running through Friday, August 24. The tournament features one of the largest player fields in the world (256 singles players) and offers more than $1 million in total prize money. For the first time, select qualifying matches will be broadcast live in a new arrangement with CBS Sports Network. The new cable network plans 24 hours of coverage over the four days of qualifying which will include live match coverage as well as an anchor desk on the grounds of the National Tennis Center. In addition, USOpen.org, the official website of the tournament, will stream live matches during qualifying week. This new offering complements the fourth year of US Open Live, the free live streaming of more than 200 matches throughout the main draw of the tournament on usopen.org.
Heineken Red Star Café: The redesigned Heineken Red Star Café, located next to the South Plaza Fountains, is now on the top level of a new two-story building. The ground floor of the redesigned structure will house a new US Open retail store. The second story Café provides a spacious setting with an enhanced menu that will offer fans unique views of the grounds as they follow matches in this one-of-a-kind setting. The Heineken Light Lounge, located in the Chase Center off the East Gate, also has been remodeled with outdoor café seating and a new interior.
Moët & Chandon Terrace: The new Moët & Chandon Terrace, designed in the brand’s signature international style, features Moët & Chandon Imperial Champagne along with full service bar options. The shaded, outdoor lounge is the tournament’s first champagne bar and is located next to the Patio Café outside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
US Open Sportsmanship Award: The USTA has created a “US Open Sportsmanship Award.” The award will be presented during the 2012 US Open to one male and one female player who best demonstrate excellence in sportsmanship during the Emirates Airline US Open Series and the US Open.
Increased Spectator Seating: Bleacher seating around the outer field courts has been increased in 2012, and all courts now will seat at least 340 spectators. The new seating also provides additional media seating and locations for tournament photographers.
US Open American Express Fan Experience: Now in its second year, the US Open American Express Fan Experience has been greatly expanded and moved inside to the space that formerly housed the SmashZone interactive exhibit. The enhanced experience will feature hitting bays, a full practice court that will be programmed with special performances and guest appearances, an American Express court concierge and many other amenities.
Citizen: In conjunction with its 20th year as Official Timekeeper of the US Open, Citizen has created a Limited Series Commemorative US Open Watch which can be purchased on site or at USOpenShop.org In celebration of its 20th anniversary as the Official Timekeeper of the US Open, USTA Corporate Champion Citizen Watch Company of America has developed a Limited Edition US Open branded Citizen Eco-Drive watch. The watch will be available for sale on-site as well as on USOpenShop.org. In addition, a special, modified version of this watch was commissioned by the USTA as the 2012 player gift and will be available to only main draw competitors.
Emirates Airline: The US Open Club will be presented by Emirates Airline for the first time. Emirates Cabin Crew will be offering guests traditional Arabic hospitality elements such as Arabic coffee and dates along with hot and/or cold towels. As part of its inaugural year as a USTA Corporate Champion and the Official Airline of the US Open, Emirates Airline is the Presenting Sponsor of the US Open Club. In addition to some updated décor elements, Emirates Airline Cabin Crew will be on hand to greet patrons of the Club with traditional hospitality.
National Childhood Obesity Awareness Event: The USTA will host a special event, on Saturday, September 1, featuring tennis mom Christine Taylor and other special guests to coincide with the launch of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month in September. The USTA will announce the latest efforts in its youth tennis initiative that will allow young people of all ages to have more fun while getting active. With tennis now sized right for kids, the sport’s national governing body expects to attract more young players to the game.
US Open Fan Patrol: Fans sitting in the promenade section of Arthur Ashe Stadium will continue to enjoy this “experience” at the 2012 US Open. During night sessions, fans will be entertained by visiting former players and other celebrities, and they will be treated to a series of prize giveaways and interactive contests.
The ICON Awards: A USTA Event: The US Open’s premiere event to celebrate diversity and inclusion in the sport of tennis and in society will honor the legacies and achievements of University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, wheelchair tennis pioneer Randy Snow, and longtime tennis advocate and former USTA Executive Director D. Lee Hamilton. The event will be held in the Chase Center on Tuesday, September 4. Summitt will receive the second “Billie Jean King Legacy Award,” first issued to former New York City Mayor David Dinkins last year. Snow and Hamilton are being honored posthumously.
US Open iPad App: The USTA has created the first-ever US Open iPad app. The app, sponsored by Esurance, provides an interactive second-screen experience for those fans watching the Open on television or online. Fans will be able to communicate with friends and fellow fans through enhanced social features, access live match video, watch highlights and interviews, as well as view match analysis, live scores and a variety of in-depth statistical information. The USTA will continue to make its mobile apps for the iPhone and Android devices available. The mobile apps also will provide users a personalized experience with “My US Open presented by American Express,” allowing fans to follow their favorite players and customize their content. USOpen.org also will be available in a mobile-friendly format for all web-enabled mobile devices, and fans can sign up for up to 250 different free mobile alerts, including scores, breaking news, and weather updates.
Social Media Integration: Fans can engage with one of the most socially-integrated sporting events ever through distinct activations across eight prominent social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter (with separate conversations for each of the six televised courts), foursquare, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and YouTube. Through these channels, fans will be able to interact with one another and with the tournament’s official website USOpen.org, easily share their favorite US Open moments and submit questions on USOpen.org Radio presented by American Express. Fans also can get the latest match notes, quotes and photos from behind the scenes and around the grounds with USOpen.org’s new blog, “The Spin.”
Final Sunday Grounds Activities: The US Open will host a series of activities beginning at noon on the grounds of the National Tennis Center on Sunday, September 9, the date of the men’s singles championship. A $5 ground admission ticket allows fans on the grounds where they can watch the US Open Junior Finals, participate in several skills challenges on various US Open courts and then watch the Men’s Singles Finals on the big screens on Court 17. All proceeds will be donated to USTA Serves, the philanthropic and charitable arm of the USTA.
Green Initiative: The US Open Green Initiative began as a pilot program in 2008 and has expanded each year, with the goal of making the US Open an environmentally-responsible and eco-friendly event. For the first time, all credential lanyards used during the tournament will be made from recycled tennis ball cans. Again in 2012, all service ware in the US Open Food Village will be 100 percent compostable, and the program will continue the site-wide composting begun in 2010. Carbon offsets have been obtained to cover all air/ground player transportation to and from the event, and Esurance will sponsor this year’s MetroCard giveaway, in which 125 fans each day will win a round-trip MetroCard to encourage the use of mass transit to the US Open.
Esurance: Esurance, the official car insurance sponsor of the US Open, is teaming up with the Bryan Brothers and USTA Serves to support two tennis programs benefiting at-risk youth. Whether on-site at their promotional booth or via their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/esurance, tennis fans can vote for one of the two “game-changing” programs. Esurance will donate a total of $50,000 to USTA Serves to be distributed to each of the programs based on the percentage of votes received. Voters can also enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip for two to the men's singles final of the 2013 US Open. When visiting the on-site booth make sure to ask about getting “spotted” on the grounds by an Esurance brand ambassador for a shot at cool daily giveaways.
Local Food Sourcing: In its commitment to reduce the tournament’s overall carbon footprint, the USTA is locally sourcing more food for the Food Village, suites, stadiums and restaurants than ever before. Levy Restaurants has increased use of locally-sourced ingredients and this year 40 percent of all produce will be sourced from the region. Area farms include Sater Farms, Eckerton Hill Farms, Latham Farms, Lynette Farms, Philips Mushroom Farms and Red Jacket Orchards. The US Open is also using locally sourced meat, seafood and poultry from Skuna Bay Salmon, Creekstone Farms, Murray’s Chicken and Gosman’s Fish Market.
US Open Gallery – International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum: This year, the US Open Gallery, located along with the US Open Bookstore in the Chase Center, will feature a special exhibit entitled “Tennis and the Olympics.” The gallery also will feature a special photography exhibition entitled “Arthur Ashe as Amateur: 1966.” In 1966, Life magazine photographer Rowland Scherman followed Ashe over two weeks, a journey that took the future champion from Texas to Los Angeles.
US Open Court of Champions Induction: Andre Agassi will be inducted into the US Open Court of Champions in a ceremony to be held on Sunday, September 9, prior to the Men’s Singles Championship. Among his many accomplishments, Agassi won the US Open in 1994 and 1999, and he competed in an Open Era record 21 consecutive US Opens.
Special Doubles Exhibition: On Thursday night, September 6, the US Open will feature an ultimate New York experience as five multi-talented New Yorkers participate in a special pro-celebrity charity doubles exhibition. Actor, comedian, writer, musician, producer and New York-native Adam Sandler will team up with four-time US Open Champion, former world #1, International Tennis Hall of Fame member, sports commentator, and musician, from Queens, NY, John McEnroe against actor, comedian, writer, and producer and Long Island-native Kevin James and his partner four-time Grand Slam Men’s Singles Champion, former world #1, Tennis Hall of Famer, and sports commentator, who now calls NY home, Jim Courier. Brooklyn-native actor, comedian and writer Colin Quinn will serve as the chair umpire for what promises to be an entertaining exhibition.