NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The US Open got off to a frustrating start for many fans.
The USTA has implemented new safety procedures for this year’s tournament. All fans will have to go through metal detectors for the first time.
As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, the additional security checks had some fans lined up waiting to enter the grounds for up to two hours earlier Monday. The Associated Press reported that the lines snaked for a quarter mile or more — from the exit point of the No. 7 train to the east entrance of the Billie Jean King Tennis Center.
“This is terrible, this is horrible. I’ve been going to the US Open for the last 10 years, I’ve never seen it like this,” one fan told Haskell.
“Absolutely unacceptable,” another man said.
LINK: US Open Security Policy
“Disgrace out there. My wife could not find the end of the bag line. She had to go back to her car. There’s no parking in Citi Field today which there always was, no explanation. Our last year at the Open,” another spectator told Haskell.
The Mets were home on Monday as well, so parking at the ballpark was reserved for the baseball crowd.
PHOTOS: US Open Day 1
Spectators said the lack of organization bothered them more than the new security provisions.
“If we do need to do a better job outside the perimeter to educate people and direct them, we will,” USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier told Haskell.
He said he’s confident the second day of the tournament would go smoother.
In response to the long lines on Monday, the USTA announced the gates will open at 9:30 a.m. instead of 10 a.m. for the remainder of the tournament, Haskell reported.
The USTA had already limited the size and number of bags fans can bring into the tennis center. It had been considering adding metal detectors even before the Boston Marathon in April, when bombs killed three people near the finish line.
Widmaier said the USTA now has what it calls “airport-type security,” with the metal detectors and the use of wands to check spectators who set off the detectors. Fans don’t need to take off shoes or belts.
US Open To Serve Up An Ace For Local Economy
Meantime, the US Open kicked off its two-week run on Monday. Organizers say the tournament is a grand slam for the local economy.
As WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported, the tournament generates more than $720 million in economic activity, making it the city’s biggest money-making event.
That eclipses a typical Super Bowl, often considered to be the biggest sporting event of the year.
The Super Bowl brings in about $430 million in economic activity for its host city.
Over the two-week tournament, 700,000 fans are expected to attend the US Open in Flushing Meadows, Queens.
Of those, an estimated 40 percent are from outside the area.
The festivities at the US Open kicked off over the weekend with First Lady Michelle Obama participating in Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day.
Grammy Award-winning rocker Lenny Kravitz will headline the opening ceremony Monday night.
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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)