NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mother Nature will no longer be a problem at the US Open.
The U.S. Tennis Association on Tuesday unveiled the new retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.
The roof will be ready when the US Open begins on Aug. 29. The men’s final was delayed a day until Monday because of rain for five straight years from 2008-12.
USTA officials had long maintained that adding a roof over Ashe wasn’t feasible. But in 2013, architectural firm Rossetti drew up a workable plan.
“Here at the Billie Jean Tennis Center, we are making the impossible happen,” USTA executive director Gordon Smith said.
The roof over the 23,771-capacity stadium is built to close or open in under seven minutes. It closed with ease during the demonstration, but it took three attempts to reopen it on Tuesday.
“This is all part of the testing process, we’re a month away, but we fixed it in five minutes and it works,” Smith told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
Wimbledon and the Australian Open already have retractable roofs over the main stadiums. French Open organizers also plan to add one.
The roof is expected to be used only for rain — unlike the Australian Open, which also closes its roof in cases of extreme heat. That roof took two years to complete and cost $150 million.
Ashe’s retractable roof features two panels atop a 6,500-ton steel superstructure and is covered to provide shade for the spectators. Each panel weighs 1 million pounds. Some 360 LED sports lights will illuminate the roof and stadium when closed.
“The complexity is mind-boggling because frankly, as you watch the roof in action, it’s what you don’t see which is fascinating,” Rossetti President Matt Rossetti said.
The US Open roof is part of a $500 million-plus renovation paid for by the USTA. The renovation included adding new courts.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)