Reporting Chris Maget
The Open, formally the United States Open Tennis Championships, is the modern incarnation of one of the oldest tennis championships in the world, the U.S. National Championship, which for men’s singles was first contested in 1881. Since 1978, the tournament has been played on acrylic hard courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens.
If you choose to attend, and we think you should, here are a few ways to maximize your experience:
Fact: The US Open is unique in that there are final-set tiebreaks; in the other three Grand Slam tournaments, the deciding set (fifth for men, third for women) continues until it is won by two games.
Coming and Going
If you insist on driving, plan accordingly. Traffic is a headache, so leave early, and plan for some stop-and-go as you reach the parking lot.
Parking is available in the lots adjacent to the Mets stadium during the US Open ($19 fee), except for the dates when the New York Mets are playing at home (see dates below) when parking will be available in Lots 1-7. Parking is available at numerous locations for $19, which comes with a long walk of its own. Shuttles are available for Lots D, E, F and G and Lots 1 – 7 and are located outside the East Gate. The Parking Lot H Shuttle is located outside the South Gate.
Congested traffic will get even worse during the days that Mets games overlap with Open events (Friday, 8/26 Saturday, 8/27 Sunday, 8/28 Monday, 8/29 Tuesday, 8/30 Wednesday, 8/31 Thursday, 9/1 Friday, 9/9 Saturday, 9/10 Sunday, 9/11).
Tip: Before you go check out our live traffic tracker
Tip: The return trip will include a bit of waiting as the Center empties into LIRR and subway trains and the parking lot.
The name of the game is public transportation. The 7 line is the only train that services the Center, at the Mets/Willets Point Station, but you can connect with it via the E, F, M, or R trains at the 74th Street-Broadway / Roosevelt Avenue stop in Jackson Heights or via the N train at Queensboro Plaza.
Make sure you have at least $2.50 on your MetroCard or a return ticket in your pocket as you walk into the match. You’ll be happy you did as you sail past the lines at ticket machines that form at the end of each match.
Visit www.mta.info/ for train and bus schedules.
Train service via the LIRR to Mets/Willets Point Station is available on eastbound Port Washington Branch trains from Penn Station and westbound trains from Great Neck and Port Washington. The train ride is just 18 minutes from Penn Station.
For those traveling on the LIRR from Long Island, the Center is just six minutes from Woodside, 17 minutes from Great Neck and 27 minutes from Port Washington. From Long Island, customers may go directly to the stadium from Port Washington Branch stations. Customers from other branches should transfer at Woodside.
From Penn Station the trip runs $14.50 roundtrip on Friday and $10 roundtrip on weekends.
Trains into Mets-Willets Point station will run every 30 minutes during the day and every 20 minutes during peak hours beginning next Tuesday as the tournament’s qualifying rounds get underway.
Tip: Last year trains into Mets-Willets Point station ran every 30 minutes during the day and every 20 minutes during peak hours beginning with the qualifying rounds. Expect the same this year.
The Q48 bus stops at 8th Avenue and W 40th St. From there, it’s only a few minutes’ walk down to 8th Ave. to 42nd St. Or take the Q23 or Q58 to Corona and 51st Ave., and walk east into Flushing Meadows Park.
Taxis are located on Roosevelt Avenue across the boardwalk under the train. Car Service dropoff/pickup is located in Parking Lot B and at the New York State Pavilion (just past the Unisphere).
Entering the Center
For day sessions, the earliest you can enter the grounds is at 10 a.m. On the final Sunday, however, entrance is pushed back to 11 a.m. Evening session ticket holders can begin entering the grounds at 6 p.m.
Every person entering the Center will be searched, but those who bring bags will spend more time in line. There are “speed lines” open specifically for those not carrying bags, so rethink what you need to bring inside. Here are more security tips from the Open organizers.
Tip: If you do choose to carry a tote, bear in mind that it has to be one compartment and no larger than 12 inches wide, 12 inches high and 16 inches long. That means no backpacks!
Stashing Your Stuff: Lockers
There are lockers right outside the Center you can rent for $5 each, so if you don’t want to lug a pack around all day, that might be your best bet. Food is only allowed for dietary and medical purposes, or for infants.
Tip: Enter by the South Gate. The morning lines at the East Gate, right off the subway/LIRR, are the longest and slowest. Walk around the crowd and to the South Gate, which is directly in front of the Unisphere.
Tip: If you have an American Express card, bring it. AmEx cardholders get special benefits like headphones with match commentary, and portable televisions to watch the other matches from their seats.
When buying tickets, you have to consider what you’re looking for in the experience. Do you want to see the heavy hitters play, or would you rather see a lot of the hungry newcomers? If it’s all about star power for you, get a seat in the Loge section of the Arthur Ashe Stadium (Rows A-C are the best). No matter which spot you pick, check out the view before you buy a ticket at http://seatviewer.usopen.org/. Your ticket gets you into any of the lesser courts, which are general admission.
The other option to see it all at the US Open is the Grounds Admission pass. It’s $60 per ticket for general admission seating. That cheaper ticket offers up-close action for even cash-strapped fans, as the vast majority of seats are general admission.
With a Grounds Admission pass you can rush for a courtside spot at a lesser court, then feel free to roam around during matches. You’ll still see a lot of respectable tennis, and definitely get your money’s worth.
Grounds Admission is only available during the first eight days of the tournament, with access to matches held in the field courts, Grandstand, and portions of the Louis Armstrong Stadium. For a hearty tennis fan, that can mean five or more matches. The Grounds Admission, however, does not grant admission to Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Tip: The best seats are found in the corners. These seats will give you a great view of the match without having to turn your head for each shot.
Tip: Make sure you are familiar with the US Open’s Inclement Weather Policy, some tickets may not be refundable. In addition, fans are advised that the US Open schedule of play is subject to change for all sessions. Tickets are not eligible for refund or exchange due to one or more changes in the US Open schedule of play.
Tip: Night sessions are cheaper and usually cooler, but the tennis is just as good.
Tip: Check out FanSnap.com and SeatGeek.com. These two aggregators search for tickets available on all major secondary markets. Both sites also use algorithms to analyze whether each ticket is a good or bad deal.
Arthur Ashe Stadium
Arthur Ashe Stadium hosts the top-seeded matches and the finals. Usually five matches per day are held at Ashe. With a capacity of over 23,000 and affordable seats only in the top tier, this venue will likely make you feel detached from the players and excitement. It’s too big and you sit too far away, for an opening match anyway. Early Ashe matches usually feature a star against a lowly ranked player or no-name. Unless you have seats up close or simply must see your favorite player, consider a smaller venue.
Tip: Check out this Stadium seating chart to help pick your seats.
Fact: Arthur Ashe Stadium, built in 1997, is the world’s largest tennis-specific stadium.
Louis Armstrong Stadium
Originally constructed by the Singer Sewing Machine Company for its 1964-65 World’s Fair exhibit, the Singer Bowl was renamed for Louis Armstrong in 1972. The Louis Armstrong Stadium holds about 10,000 and can be a much better location to see name players, without binoculars. The Stadium has some reserved seating and as well as open seating for Grounds Admission pass holders.
Tip: Here are the official seating charts for Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong Stadiums.
The Grandstand is a smaller venue, open to anyone with a Grounds Admission pass or other ticket. All seats are first-come, first-serve. With only 5,800 seats, the Grandstand makes it possible to intimately experience the action.
Tip: This guide estimates that about 20 percent of the seats at the Grandstand are in the shade, a rarity at the Open. Opt for the shady east side of the stadium, which is excellent for visibility and comfort. Be aware that some areas of the Grandstand have only bleachers with no back support.
There are field courts throughout the grounds. Seating capacity ranges from about 100 to 1,500. These courts provide great opportunities to get close to the action. In the first few days of the tournament, the field courts are simply the best places to watch tennis. The experience of being so close to the action is unparalleled. Again, the earlier you arrive, the better your odds are of getting a great seat.
Tip: The practice courts located by the West Gate are a great place to get an up-close look at some of the world’s best players.
Tip: After you’ve arrived early at the venue of your choice and claimed your seats, have someone save your space when you need the restroom, a snack, or walk.
Tip: Be advised that ushers carefully monitor movement during play and will demand that you sit immediately, to avoid player distractions. Additionally, you cannot enter the playing area until breaks in play. Ushers block entry ways, allowing spectators to enter the playing area between every third game, after each set, and at the conclusion of matches.
At the Open
US Open Main Tournament
The main tournament at the Open runs from Monday, August 29, to Sunday, September 11. The Men’s Championship is September 11, the Women’s is on the 10th.
The US Open is holding its third annual Family Day on Tuesday, August 30.
Parents accompanied by children 14-and-under can sit together in reserved seating in Louis Armstrong Stadium. An exclusive family breakfast, located in the Corporate Hospitality Pavilion in the Chase Center, is also available as a ticket package for purchase and includes early access to Smashzone and an exclusive gift bag.
In addition to world-class tennis, the US Open features a generous helping of live music and entertainment around the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center – including jazz combos, a steel drum band, and guitar virtuosos. Special activities are also planned for Finals Weekend,.
Tip: You don’t need officially-licensed US Open Sunglasses, but do protect your eyes if you are attending a day session. Also, don’t forget a hat and sunscreen while you’re out there.
So you can’t bring food into the center – a downer for sure – but there’s plenty of good eats inside. Just don’t come starving because the prices are as hard on your wallet as an ace to the face. That being said, though the prices are comparable to Yankee Stadium or Citi Field, the quality is much better. For a full sit-down meal experience, dine on Cuban cuisine and tropical drinks at Mojito, on the ground floor of Arthur Ashe Stadium. It’s the nicest spot open to all ticket holders. Otherwise, grab sandwiches, salads, or hot dogs in the “Food Village.”
Aces and Champions Bar & Grill – Both are located on the Club level in Arthur Ashe Stadium between Gates 3 and 4 and are available to Courtside Box seat holders and Luxury Suite guests. You can access both restaurants by using the elevators on the east side of Arthur Ashe Stadium adjacent to the US Open Club. Loge and Promenade Subscription Series ticket holders may purchase passes for the duration of the tournament by calling the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Ticket Office at 718.760.6363.
US Open Club – The US Open Club is located on the ground floor of Arthur Ashe Stadium. The Club is available to all Subscription Series ticket holders for the duration of the tournament for a nominal entrance fee, and is included for Silver Loge Box seat holders. The US Open Club, with its striking contemporary décor, is famous for the Chef’s Table and seasonal selections of eclectic American cuisine. Restaurant passes are required. To purchase passes, call the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center Ticket Office at 718.760.6363.
Patio Café & Bar – Soak up the beautiful surroundings of the US Open grounds at our expanded charming outdoor café and bar located outside the US Open Club. Enjoy fresh selections of seasonal sandwiches and salads paired with summer specialty cocktails. The Patio Café & Bar is available for all ticket holders.
Mojito Restaurant & Bar – Mojito, our Cuban-inspired restaurant, transports you to a dramatic setting in a tropical oasis reminiscent of 1950s Havana. Experience Mojito’s luscious flavors with Latin specialties and cool cocktails either inside or outdoors in our newly expanded whimsical outdoor garden. Mojito is available for all ticket holders. Join us for lunch, dinner or after the matches. Mojito is located on the ground floor of Arthur Ashe Stadium near the Patio Café.
Stonyfield Café – Looking for a halthy food option? Stop by the Stonyfield Café, a grab-and-go dining option dedicated to serving healthy food, fast. Stonyfield Café offers food options that are all natural and/or organic, locally grown and sustainable.
Heineken Red Star Café – Located in the South Plaza near Courts 5 and 7, the Heineken Red Star Café has a sports bar atmosphere complete with TVs covering the action on our featured courts, light snacks, specialty
beers featuring Heineken and Heineken Premium Light, frozen cocktails and a full bar—all set outdoors in the middle of the action. The Heineken Red Star Café is available to all ticket holders throughout the day and evening.
Baseline Cocktails – Come quench your thirst with a full‑service bar that includes premium wine upgrades.
Wine Bar Food – Serving Mediterranean flavors with wines to match.
Food Village – Enjoy regional cuisine and specialty items at the US Open Food Village. Check out offerings from Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Carnegie Deli, and many more.
Alternatively, you can save some cash and eat outside the Open. Queens has food for every appetite. Check out Serious Eats for a full rundown of food in Flushing.
Tip: If you’re just looking for a hot dog and soda, get your hand stamped and step out for a late lunch in Flushing Meadows Park.
The Honey Deuce is the signature drink of the US Open. It’s made with Grey Goose, raspberry-flavored liqueur, lemonade, and garnished with honeydew melon “tennis balls.” The cost is $13, but it’s served in a souvenir glass that’s yours to keep. The Honey Deuce was created by Nick Mautone, Grey Goose’s Master Mixologist and NYC restaurateur, to serve as the official cocktail of the US Open.
International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum Gallery at the US Open — Be sure to visit the US Open Gallery, located inside the Chase Center, where this year’s champions will be commemorated.
SmashZone — Located in the Chase Center, SmashZone has something for the whole family to enjoy, including QuickStart Tennis courts, a rally wall challenge and interactive photos and games.
Fountain Plaza Desk — CBS will broadcast live during select sessions from the Fountain Plaza Desk in the South Plaza.