|The retractable roof being built over Arthur Ashe Stadium is scheduled|
to be completed in time for next year's U.S. Open. Photo by Paul Bauman
Instead, the U.S. Open was very fan-friendly during a visit on the first three days. Tournament director David Brewer and his staff have done a tremendous job.
|Arthur Ashe Stadium, with a capacity of 23,771, is the largest tennis facility|
in the world. Photo by Paul Bauman
The tournament offers every viewing experience to suit every type of fan and budget. Spectators can watch the biggest stars from a distance in 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis facility in the world, or 10,103-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium. They can see lesser stars in the 6,106-seat grandstand, which will be moved next year, or the circular 3,000-seat Court 17. Or they can check out obscure players close up, even courtside, on one of the other outside courts.
|The South Plaza serves as the pleasant epicenter of the USTA Billie Jean King|
National Tennis Center. Photo by Paul Bauman
The roof actually enhances the stadium, visually and otherwise, making it seem more intimate. Even sitting in the top row is worthwhile.
|Commentators Chris Evert, right, and Chris McKendry |
appear on the air in the ESPN booth on the South Plaza.
Photo by Paul Bauman
The pleasant epicenter of the grounds is the South Plaza, featuring two large reflecting pools with fountains, a big-screen TV showing matches in Ashe and Armstrong and scores from the other courts, one of the two ESPN booths where fans can see Chris Evert and maybe get a wave from the commentator/legend, and a small park where fans can relax. A live band helps lend a party atmosphere to the tournament.
|Left to right are circular 3,000-seat Court 17 and Courts 12 and 11.|
Photo by Paul Bauman
A good-sized, piping-hot individual pizza costs $9. A big plate of steak or chicken nachos runs $12. For the health-conscious, a chicken salad on flatbread goes for $11.50. All are tasty, and somehow lines were short.
Tip No. 6: Sit at a table with a view of one of the big TV monitors and catch up on all the scores.
And, of course, there's a souvenir shop every 50 feet, some bigger than others. T-shirts and caps cost $26 to $30, and an Under Armour polo shirt sells for $74.
Tip No. 7: Buy souvenirs on your way out when the shops are less crowded and you don't have to lug your bag all day. Better yet, USTA members get 10 percent off on merchandise online only with free shipping for purchases over $50.
Other than at the entrance, there were only two waits. One was at the men's restroom (I said the heck with it). The other was at a separate Ben & Jerry's stand, and that was only 10 or 15 minutes (it was worth it).
Overall, you don't have to be Donald Trump to afford to attend the U.S. Open. But it doesn't hurt.
If you can afford it, go to the U.S. Open. You won't regret it.