Having just spent my 10th Labor Day weekend at the U.S. Open (including a great Sunday late night watching Sam Stosur and, I thought I'd post some general information here, while it's all fresh in my mind.
I'll be happy to update this OP if others have information to add.
The official website is at http://www.usopen.org
(the .com address is for the golf U.S. Open)
The U.S. Open is played during two weeks every fall, beginning on the Monday before Labor Day and concluding on the Sunday after Labor Day. The Day Session begins at 11:00am each day and may continue into the wee hours of the morning. The Evening Session begins at 7:00pm.
There are several ways to get tickets for the U.S. Open:
1) Series Plans (Full and Mini)
- These can be obtained directly from the U.S. Open via their website or by phone. Deposits for the next year can be placed over a year in advance. This seems to be the only way to get good seats in the Lower Promenade or Loge of Arthur Ashe Stadium, and current subscribers get options to upgrade their seats each year.
VIP packages, group sales, and corporate hospitality options are also available directly from the U.S. Open.
2) Advance Individual Tickets
- These are sold through Ticketmaster in batches, and the vast majority of seats available will be in the Upper Promenade of Arthur Ashe Stadium:
- mid-April - USTA (U.S. Tennis Association) members only (a few Loge tickets were available in 2011)
- early June - American Express cardholders pre-sale
- mid-June - General sale
Tickets for popular sessions, such as those over Labor Day weekend, go extremely
quickly during each of these sales. You'll need to get online right at the release time and make your selections quickly (see Types of Seats below for additional notes on Ashe seating).
3) Box Office
- Additional tickets of all types may become available during the event at the Box Office for the following day's sessions.
4) Ticket Exchange
- Ticketmaster allows the purchase and sale of tickets via their Ticket Exchange
up to 3 hours prior to the beginning of the session.
- As you walk down the boardwalk from the 7 train to the U.S. National Tennis Center, you'll often see people requesting tickets. There may be scalpers (touts) offering tickets as well. Obviously, such purchases carry significant risks (counterfeits, duplicates, etc.), and are illegal within 1500 feet of the U.S. National Tennis Center (there is signage to this effect).
Types of Tickets
The following types of non-premium tickets are available:
1) Grounds Pass (Day Session)
- This allows you access to all courts except Arthur Ashe Stadium, including Louis Armstrong Stadium (non-reserved sections), the Grandstand (all sections, including box seats), and all Field Courts (there are several showcase courts with larger stands. Often a great value as you can get up close to the action! ($58 for Labor Day weekend, 2010) Entry to Louis Armstrong Stadium or the Grandstand may be limited or halted if matches become crowded.
2) Arthur Ashe (Day Session)
- These allow you access to all courts, including a reserved seat in Arthur Ashe stadium during the Day Session. Access to other courts is through the conclusion of play, which may be as late as 9-10pm on some days.
3) Arthur Ashe (Evening Session)
- The evening session begins at 7:00pm and entry to the grounds is allowed starting at 6:00pm. Technically, this ticket only allows you access to Arthur Ashe Stadium, although you may be able to enter the other courts if matches are still in progress. When Louis Armstrong Stadium or the Grandstand are crowded, entry may be restricted to Day Session ticketholders.
4) Louis Armstrong Reserved (Day Session)
- This allows you access to all courts except Arthur Ashe Stadium, including a reserved seat in Louis Armstrong Stadium in the center sections behind the baselines. You should always be able to access Louis Armstrong Stadium with this ticket, regardless of capacity controls (ask at a gate with no line). Note that these tickets are even more expensive than the Ashe tickets.
Types of Seats
The following is an overview of the seating in the stadiums at the U.S. Open. Seating near the ends of the court are generally preferred, as you can see the angles better and don't have to constantly turn your head from side to side - this is the view you get on television.
1) Arthur Ashe Stadium
a) Promenade (Rows P-Z and Rows A-O)
- The nosebleed seats, but you'll still have a surprisingly clear view of the court. The Lower Promenade portion (Rows A-O) sells at a premium to the Upper Promenade portion, and is probably not worth the extra cost unless you can get a good seat in the first few rows. This is because, despite the fact that the Promenade is technically Reserved seating, open seating tends to be used de facto
, especially during Day Sessions, as people seek out lower rows and better sections - etiquette is if someone asks you to move from their seat, you apologize and move
. You may not sit on the stairs, but you may stand at the top walkway of the stadium.
The south side of the stadium (Sections 339, 340, 301, 302, 303) is in the shade below the press boxes. The top of the north side of the stadium (Sections 319-323, except Section 321 where the jumbotron is) has excellent views looking toward Citi Field (Mets Stadium) and LGA / LaGuardia Airport. The top of the northeast side of the stadium (Sections 312-317) provides views down into Louis Armstrong Stadium next door. Note that the sun is behind the south side of the stadium at the start of play, then moves toward the west side of the stadium as the day goes on, thus the north and east sides of the stadium will get the most sun.
These seats are not
accessible and you will have to climb at least one set of stairs to get to the bottom row and a long staircase to get to the top.
- These seats are accessed from the same level of the stadium as the Promenade, but are below it. Each section is three or four seats across and two rows deep. Access is monitored vigilantly by ushers at the top of the section. However, those ushers go off duty at approximately 10:45pm, and people from the Promenade may move down into this section, sometimes with an official invitation from the announcer. Accessible seating is available at the top of this level.
- These box seats are associated with suites just behind the seating area and are typically used by corporate parties. They are accessed from the lower level of the stadium, and access to this level is monitored vigilantly by ushers located on the escalators. The CBS/ESPN/Tennis Channel broadcast booth is on this level on the south side of the stadium, and the broadcasters, including the likes of John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, and Chris Evert, can be seen through the open window at the front of the booth.
- These are the best seats in the house, and are accessed from the same level of the stadium as the Loge, but are below it. Each section is four seats across and two rows deep. During late night sessions, people from other sections may be allowed into this section, sometimes with an official invitation from the announcer. If you see a big crowd coming out to look for seats on a changeover, that's an indication that open access is being allowed.
2) Louis Armstrong Stadium
a) General Admission
- These areas are open to all ticketholders, including those with Grounds Passes. The best way to access these seats is via the upper walkway, which can be reached via the stairs under the west side of the stadium and via the stairs up from the food concession area between Louis Armstrong Stadium and the Grandstand. Often, you will be able to walk around this walkway during play to scope out seats, although you should refrain from walking down to lower seats, especially those behind the baseline, during play. Security guards may intermittently and inconsistently restrict access to some or all of the upper walkway during play. You may not sit on the stairs, but may be able to stand on the upper walkway if the security guard on duty in that section permits it. Be sure not to block the view of those in the upper decks if you stand on the walkway. The upper walkway also connects on the northeast corner of the stadium to the balcony over the Grandstand. Access to Louis Armstrong Stadium is also available via the tunnels under the stadium, but you will have to line up without a view of the court and wait for a changeover to enter.
The seats in the southeast corner of the stadium, adjacent to Section 110, are in the shade for much of the day, as the sun begins behind the south side of the stadium, and moves to the west. You'll often find people camping out here all day long, edging over to better and better seats between sets and between matches. Much of the stadium has very limited legroom, but there are a few prized seats at the bottoms of the corner sections with unlimited legroom.
While bathrooms are available in the tunnels, the lines are always shorter at the top of the stadium, on the upper walkway behind the west upper deck and on the balcony overlooking the Grandstand behind the east upper deck.
- A few years ago, the U.S. Open began selling reserved seats in Louis Armstrong Stadium in a limited number of sections behind the baseline. It is possible to access these seats from the adjacent sections and there are no ushers present - again, etiquette is if someone asks you to move from their seat, you apologize and move
. The broadcast booth is above the Reserved sections on the south side of the stadium.
- These seats are monitored vigilantly by the ushers and I don't know if they are ever opened up for general access late at night.
a) General Admission
- The great thing about the Grandstand is that the entire stadium is open seating. This means that you can sit in box seats behind the baseline if you can get them (watch out for stray balls)! The Grandstand can only be accessed by the tunnels beneath the stadium, and you will have to wait in line without a view of the court to enter during a changeover. Access is generally not permitted via the lower walkway connecting Louis Armstrong Stadium and the food concession area to the Grandstand.
The west side of the stadium is completely shaded by the side of Louis Armstrong stadium. Note that the main stands on the south, east, and north sides of the stadium have bench seating without seatbacks. The broadcast booth is on the south side of the stadium above the main stand.
- The balcony is on the west side of the Grandstand, under the upper deck of Louis Armstrong stadium, and provides good, nearly directly overhead views of play. The balcony can become crowded at times, so you will only have a good view if you are right on the railing. The balcony can be accessed from the northeast corner of upper walkway of Louis Armstrong Stadium, or via stairs from the food concession area between Louis Armstrong Stadium and the Grandstand. The stairs are covered by a mesh screen and you may not stop on the stairs to watch play.
Outdoor Show Courts
There are several outdoor field courts that are used for professional (rather than junior) matches and have larger stands and television cameras. You will occasionally be able to see some fantastic matches here, particularly in doubles. In particular, Court 11, just to the east of the fountains in the main plaza, has both a main stand on the west side of the court and a small stand on the north side of the court. Access is only available on changeovers.
For 2011, a new show court, Court 17
, has been added at the site of the old Courts 17 and 18, with seats and bleachers on 8 sides accommodating 2,500 spectators. The corner bleachers are planned to be replaced with regular seats for 2012. This sunken court has open seating throughout, and provides closeup views of the players. The court is equipped with jumbotron screens and the Hawk-eye system for electronic reviews of line calls. Walk around to the far sides of the court for shorter lines and some shade under the press box.
While parking is available at the U.S. Open, most travel by subway on the 7 train to the second to last stop, Mets Stadium-Willets Point, or by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) on the Port Washington branch from Penn Station to Mets-Willets Point. From there, it's a 5-minute walk down the boardwalk to the U.S. National Tennis Center. When arriving on the 7 train, the exit onto the boardwalk is one-third of the way back from the front of the platform. In 2011, pedicabs were being operated for Starwood Preferred Guest members from one end of the boardwalk to the other; in previous years, this service has been offered by Amex. It is good custom to tip your cyclist a few dollars for the ride.
Express 7 trains are only available on non-holiday weekdays during rush hour, running toward Manhattan in the morning and toward Queens in the evening. Those traveling from Manhattan by subway should consider taking the E or F to Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Ave, then transferring to the 7 if the travel time is faster (you'll skip some local stops in Queens but will likely have to stand for the 6 stops on the 7 train). The back of the F arrives at the stairs closest to the escalators that lead up to the 7 platform. Walk forward past the mid-platform entrance to get on the car closest to the exit at Mets-Willets Point.
In 2010, Delta sponsored a $1 NY water taxi
operating TO the U.S. Open from Pier 11 and East 35th Street. The water taxi is reported to have excellent views of LGA from the water. Note that advance reservations were required and no return service was offered.
When departing the U.S. Open, you'll again need to walk along the boardwalk to the 7 train or LIRR. Most will take the ramp or first staircase up to the boardwalk, but there is a shortcut across the parking lot as you exit the ground to a second, dark staircase on the left (this staircase was closed off in 2011). For the subway, after passing beneath the tracks at the end of the boardwalk, the ramp to the left will take you up to the turnstiles near the very front of the 7 local train. If changing to the E or F, get off at the 74th St-Broadway stop, and proceed down the stairs and escalators to the E/F Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Ave platform.
A Tennis Special Express may run after the evening session, making limited stops including Grand Central and Times Square but excluding 74th Street-Broadway (transfers to E, F, M, R). The express trains are accessed via the turnstiles directly on your left as you begin passing under the tracks.
What (Not) To Bring
There is a long list of restrictions on items that may not be brought into the grounds (check the U.S. Open website
for current restrictions), including food, alcoholic beverages, glass bottles, and cans. Plastic drink bottles are allowed, but metal water bottles are not; bottled soda may not be allowed. You may be able to bring packed food and snacks in, but it is officially forbidden except for limited quantities for medical, dietary, or infant purposes (think cargo pants).
As of 2013, all visitors must pass through walk-through metal detectors to enter the grounds. All bags, including handbags, purses, and camera bags are subject to search and those entering with bags should head to the left at the bottom of the ramp after the boardwalk. Knapsacks and backpacks are forbidden outright. Each person is limited to one bag, and there is bag storage available for a fee outside the grounds on the boardwalk. Those without bags may proceed directly to the much shorter Speed Lines on the right (think cargo pants).
Note that temperatures can vary greatly over the course of the day, with a 20 °F change not uncommon. A hat and sunblock are highly advisable on sunny days, as are a windbreaker or sweatshirt on windy days and during evening sessions. Note that the U.S. National Tennis Center is near the water (Flushing Bay), so the winds are generally higher here than in other parts of NYC. Hold onto those hats - I saw a nice wide-brimmed wicker hat fly off someone's head in the Upper Promenade and float all the way down to Courtside in Ashe in 2010!
There are numerous food concession stands on the grounds, including a main food court area to your left as you enter. Vegetarian, healthy (Stonyfield Farm), and glatt kosher specialty stands are available at smaller stands around the main food court. All of these concessions accept cash or credit cards. Expect highway robbery prices throughout (e.g.
, $8 beer).
Inside Arthur Ashe stadium, there are food concessions on the main walkways behind the stands. Inside Louis Armstrong Stadium, there are food concessions in the tunnel beneath the south stand. There are also a food concessions in the area between Louis Armstrong Stadium and the Grandstand, which provides direct access via the stairs back to the balcony above the Grandstand and the upper walkway of Louis Armstrong Stadium. Vegetarians will find limited options within the stadiums (cheese pizza, mozarella panini, veggie quesadilla are all there is), and should note that these food concessions often run out of vegetarian (and other) options during the day and especially in the evening. All of these concessions accept cash or credit cards.
Ice cream (on a stick) stands are available on the upper walkway of Louis Armstrong stadium and only accept cash.
There can be long lines for the bathrooms, especially for the women, but also for the men, particularly between sets, between matches, and at the end of a session. In general, your best bet is to go during play, somewhere in the middle of the set where you won’t mind missing a few games.
In Arthur Ashe Stadium, the bathrooms for the Promenade and Loge are on the walkway level between them, behind the stands. No other options here. In Louis Armstrong Stadium and the Grandstand, the lines, if any, are shortest at the bathrooms on the upper walkway, behind the east and west upper decks. There are also bathrooms in the tunnel beneath the stadiums, but the lines will often be longer. There is also a set of bathrooms next to the food concession area that is between Louis Armstrong Stadium and the Grandstand. At Court 11, there are also bathrooms beneath the main stand...one imagines that there are shorter lines elsewhere if you can find them. At Court 17, there are bathrooms on the North side of the court, in the building where the Food Court is located.
Amex Radio Earpieces
American Express cardholders can obtain radio earpieces free of charge for listening to television broadcasts during the matches. The broadcast is well-synced with live play, so you won't hear echos of the ball bouncing, and the broadcasters sometimes interact with listeners.
There is often a long line at the first Amex stand as you enter the grounds, but there is another stand between Court 11 and Arthur Ashe Stadium. You will need your card as it will be swiped (presumably to ensure that you aren't loading up on earpieces), and should verify that your earpiece is working before you leave (there were numerous defective ones this year, but you can always trade them in at any time). It’s a good idea to get a couple in case one stops working during the day. These earpieces only work on the grounds.
The U.S. Open offered free wifi access on the USOPEN2010 SSID in 2010, and on the U.S. Open Fans SSID in 2011 in both Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium, although the signal was weak and intermittent.
iPhone users may also find 3G access to be very slow, perhaps due to the concentration of users sharing bandwidth on the nearest cell tower. iPhone users may also have difficulty receiving calls and voicemails. Text messaging seems to be the most surefire method for getting through, but may also be delayed.
iPhone / iPod App
The U.S. Open does offer a free iPhone / iPod App. However, note that the app requires internet access to even open. Thus, if you are planning to use the match schedule from the app, it’s a good idea to take screen shots (click both buttons simultaneously) in advance.
Television and Live Streaming Video Coverage
In 2009, coverage of Evening Sessions over Labor Day weekend began to be broadcast on the Tennis Channel, which is only available to premium cable subscribers. In 2010, ESPN2 provided extensive coverage during the week, with CBS providing coverage of Daytime Sessions over Labor Day weekend. However, anytime coverage is not available on CBS, the matches will be available live via streaming video on www.usopen.org
. Mac users may have problems viewing the stream with Firefox, but Safari should work.
In some years, including 2010, Amex has also provided free U.S. Open Live coverage on a large TV screen at Madison Square Park
. Bleachers, lawn seating, and a food court are available.
This being FlyerTalk, it's worth nothing that there are some great opportunities for planespotting at the U.S. Open, from the top of Arthur Ashe Stadium, and while sitting on the west side of Louis Armstrong Stadium. LGA Arrivals flying the Expressway Visual approach to runway 31 will circle around the grounds to the east and remain in view all the way to touchdown. Conversely, LGA Departures flying the Whitestone Climb from runway 13 will also circle the grounds to the east before turning back to the north. LGA Departures flying the Maspeth Climb from runway 13 will directly overfly the grounds at low altitude on their way south. LGA Arrivals flying the eastern routing to runway 22 will overfly Arthur Ashe stadium, often casting a distracting shadow on the court, before turning and descending over Flushing Bay. Those with internet access can listen in on the LGA Tower feed at www.liveatc.net