September 10, 1995
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
PAGE CROSLAND: Those of you who would like to hear some plans about the new construction project, we are going to spend about five minutes before the U.S. Tennis Writers will be meeting, so everybody is welcomed to stay for the first five or ten minutes.
ROBIN FINN: Hi, welcome to the meeting of the United States Tennis Writers Association. We would like to begin it with a brief presentation from members of the USTA, regarding the construction of the new stadium.
PAGE CROSLAND: Les is going to say a few words why we are undertaking this enormous project and then David Markin, who is the President of the New Projects Committee, is going to speak briefly with some assistance from David Meehan, who is our facilities director.
LES SNYDER: Robin, we appreciate the opportunity to talk with you all and share some of our ideas about proceeding with this new facility. We are very, very pleased that we have been able to make the progress that we have thus far. It seems to indicate that things are going to proceed with regularity and we are hoping that we will be able to be in the facility in for the U.S. Open in 1997. From time to time, some people say to me, why do you need a new facility. Let me just tell you that David Meehan, who maintains this facility, can probably speak to this much more elaborately than I can, but I was a treasurer of the Association several years ago and one of the responsibilities of the treasurer, was to look after the insurance requirements and the maintenance requirements for the facility. I assure you that there are enough things that we need to do each year to maintain the facility; that it makes a great deal of sense for us to proceed and to try to build a new facility. In fact, the facility is outdated. It was not built as a tennis facility. No mistake - no mistake - it has served us very, very well as a U.S. Open facility. And the vision of the people that put it together is just tremendous. But we needed to do some things and we need to be, and have, a modern facility. And if you just go around to the different complexes, why, you can begin to see some of the things that we need. I suspect that we don't have to say much to you people about some of the needs for improving conditions. We try all the time to make the press box facility just a little bit better and to be very frank with you, why, I was up there the other day and I was just saying to myself, I am glad that there will be -- that it will be about two years where David and David will be expressing their ideas or our ideas about what the new facility will be and how it will accommodate the media. But I think that that should rest with them. The U.S. Open is tremendously important to the United States Tennis Association and the programs that we deliver throughout the 17 sections of the country. We have programs ranging all the way from entry level programs through the highest levels of competition. It is very, very important for us that we stay competitive within the tennis community and the sports community, in terms of the facility that we have got. We offer programs for the schools. We offer programs for the inner city youth, the USTA NJTL programs, and we offer programs through our adult leagues. And in addition, we have a very systematic, competitive program that enables us to develop the talent that we think is important for us to end up with a final like we are hoping to see today. So we do need a new facility. The plan is, that what we will do, is downsize the current facility. And that essentially means taking the top red seats off from the facility. Why do that? Well, we don't want to continue having some of the problems that we currently have. If we reduce the upper weight, that will help us tremendously, as it affects the lower part of the stadium. Again, I would just say to you, that a lot of the structure that we put up -- it did serve us very well, but now that adds to the burdens of the maintenance of the facility. How can we assure the success of the continuing success of the U.S. Open? Well, in fact, we need to have great players and great matches like we have been having this week. And that will take you a long, long way to making everything successful, but we believe that in behalf of the players, and on behalf of the fans, and on behalf of those that come and help us to deliver the U.S. Open, that we need to provide more modern facilities. Why, one of the things we did this year was to upgrade the locker room facilities. By upgrading the locker room facilities, that has made a tremendous difference in just the general attitude of a lot of the players as we commented, and sought their feedback regarding how we were doing. Now, in terms of dealing with the details of what we are going to be doing for the media and what we are going to be doing, generally, throughout the construction, I have my two construction chiefs here. These are guys who overlook the construction. David Markin has agreed to be the vice-chairman of the U.S. Open project, and that means that he is charged with looking at many of the business decisions and many of the planning decisions that are involved, as we set the tone for -- set the pace for getting our facility completed. And David Meehan, on the other hand, who is here everyday, and he helps both David and I as we try to oversee the project and see what is taking place, David looks into the day-to-day details. So at this point, I am going to turn the mic over to David Markin and David Meehan and together will talk with you about specifically what we are going to do for the meeting.
DAVID MARKIN: Thank you, Les. One of the reasons that we went into this project in 1989, was as Les pointed out, the inadequacy of many of the facilities in this particular Open venue. We have been very fortunate. We have been here a number of years, and we have gotten very, very good service out of it, but sooner or later it becomes time to move on in time. Let me start with a very mundane statistic, that is rest rooms. In the old project, the old venue we are in right now, totally, there is only about 115, combination, men's and women's rest rooms. In the new project, there will be over 400. This doesn't seem like it is very important. Particularly, you know, it is not the kind of thing that you advertize when you are building a new stadium. But it is critical being in the modern age and to being up to code to have enough rest rooms in a stadium so that you don't have unsightly lines of people walking around and waiting and a certain uncomfortable flavor about bringing in portable rest rooms which we would like to eliminate. As far as the media goes, currently we have 269 seats in the press box, and 24 more seats in the media work room for a total of 293. In the new facility, we will have 409 media work stations in two rooms and of the current 293 seats, in the press box, 48 are assigned to radio. Stadium court seating, we have 129 available right now. In the new facility, we will have 85 court side, 244 in the lodge, for a total of 285. Media dining. Currently we have room for 94 and it gets very crowded when everybody is there at the same time. The new facility will have at least 138, plus possible additional outdoor seating. In the interview room, we currently have approximately, 95 seats. The new facility will have 194 in interview room 1, 30 in interview room 2, and 20 in interview room 3. Lockers for media. Currently we have 73 media workroom lockers and 138 photographer lockerrooms. The new facility will have a total of more than 600. Toilets for the media. Currently we have three in the press box, unisex and one mens and one ladies in the dining room. New facility will have one mens with shower and workroom, plus one stall and two urinals. Womens: one women's shower and workroom, three stalls. One mens in the dining room and one women's in dining room. These are the basic media upgrades that we are doing and we take tours of the French - we have taken tours of the other Grand Slams and we are very, very cognizant of what needs to make. It is a first rate facility, available to the media, and we want our tournament to be the best of the Grand Slams. We know that we have to provide you and the media with the best facilities.
PAGE CROSLAND: Any questions?
Q. You didn't mention monitors. Will each site, each working station have one?
DAVID MARKIN: Currently, each of the 409 cites is scheduled to have a monitor.
DAVID MEEHAN: You will have a monitor, a fax modem, a telephone line. Each work station, which is in design right now, should give you everything you could possibly use at that station.
DAVID MARKIN: Very similar to the French.
Q. Can you make it clear, where is this media center, so people understand?
DAVID MEEHAN: Ground floor of the stadium. The new stadium and the ground floor, unlike this facility, will not have public access. That is one of our problems. On the daily basis, when you walk out this hall, you are outside with the ticket holders. The ground floor will strictly be the employees, the staff, players, media, etcetera, on that floor. That is the ground floor of the new facility.
DAVID MARKIN: And the lodge.
Q. Where will be viewing seats be in relation to the working area?
DAVID MEEHAN: Same quadrant. What we have tried to do is put the media facilities adjacent to their seating and within close distance. What seperates you basically from the player areas, are the press interview rooms. So that the players can access the interview rooms from their side and you can access it from your side, very comfortably, and easily on that ground level without interference with anyone else.
Q. What about locking storage space at desks?
DAVID MARKIN: I don't see any reason why we can't have that.
DAVID MEEHAN: That whole work station should provide all of that in that. We are working on the design right now.
DAVID MARKIN: Similar to the French.
Q. You mentioned radio reporters room, about 40 spaces. Where are we going to be in the future?
DAVID MARKIN: You will be in the media area. You will have a separate section in the media area. We won't abandon radio.
Q. With the radio aspects, I mean, will they be partitioned off sections? Because, obviously, it is an area that is going to have the most noise, where everybody is glaring at the same time.
DAVID MARKIN: If that is what is necessary, I don't see any reason why we can't do it.
PAGE CROSLAND: Any other questions?
BUD COLLINS: Sounds fine.
Q. Can we just assure that someone on the Tennis Writers will be able to liaison as we get closer to the actual date?
DAVID MEEHAN: I extended invitation to you through Page Crosland, as I am here at the tennis center everyday of the year, working on both the U.S. Open, this facility, and the stadium project. The drawings are very detailed, and there are quite a number of drawings that just pertain to your areas, and if you have two or three people you'd like to assign as a committee to come out and spend time with myself, going through the drawings and every little detail of it, we will be more than happy to do that. You can call me directly here about it any single day of the year.
DAVID MARKIN: I would like to point out that we have already had substantial input from the media and we would be happy, as David points out, we would be happy if you would give us your view of it. I would do it as promptly as possible because you know every time you make a change, you make 50 other changes. I have been instructed by our president to stay under budget or on budget. So get with us real quickly if you want a look. We will be happy to see you.
Q. I noticed that you are reducing the grandstand by 700 seats. You have explained why you are doing -- what you are doing with the stadium. What is the point of 700?
DAVID MARKIN: Make it more comfortable and more modern. As Les pointed out, we are going to reduce stadium 1 to 10,500. We are going to do something great in the great hall - cleaning up the place a bit, making it look a little more palatable. Main focus, stadium No. 1, we are going to clean up the grandstand and current stadium 1 now.
Q. Forgive me for being late. But I had to write about Doubles. Will each working spot in our facility have a place that we can plug in to hear what is going on at various--
DAVID MARKIN: Yes. Total work station.
DAVID MEEHAN: You will have access to our entire closed circuit TV system, which now has approximately 20 channels. God only knows what they will have by then. You will be able to listen to, or tune into any channel independently and privately. Toughest part of all of this, is to keep up with the technology as it comes across. It is so fast and rapid.
Q. I have a question about the stadium, as it is very large, how can you really watch tennis in a stadium with 23.5 capaciy; what steps is the committee taking to make the viewing experience --
DAVID MARKIN: That is a real good question. The current stadium, the Old Singer Bowl was not really built for a tennis set up. It is very steep; goes up very high. You get up on the top -- I was looking for somebody; I had got a bit of a nose bleed up there. The new stadium will be developed by CAD CAM, Computer System Design. Layed out in such a way that you will have a much more gentler slope going up two rings of enclosed boxes; fairly low along there. Even the top seats will have a much better viewing look, much better viewing feeling than the seats in the stadium.
Q. What is the distance between the new stadium and what -- I presume the old stadium will act like a grandstand stadium now?
DAVID MARKIN: Yeah, the distance you can see, we have a piece -- built a slice -- kind of like a Dali painting, a slice built in the new stadium - you can see how close. It is going to be real close. That is what we want, we want it close enough so people will be able to move back and forth. We are going to have about 40 acres; much bigger; a park feeling, walk around and get some feeling of space instead of everybody getting on each other's feet.
Q. Will WTA media people be located in the press room?
DAVID MARKIN: I don't know why not.
DAVID MEEHAN: We have a lot of spaces, office space on the drawings that have not been officially labeled; based on some input we are still waiting to get and some decisions we have to make internally as well, but there is enough spaces to do it.
DAVID MARKIN: Partitions are easy to do as long as we don't have to change any pipes.
Q. Will all courts be covered close circuit wise to come up on our screens on the desk?
DAVID MEEHAN: At this moment you will have seven field courts plus the three stadiums at this point. We will have- - we are putting conduit in the ground to all the field courts to eventually get to that in the long-term.
DAVID MARKIN: As David pointed out we will be awfully silly if three years down the road we wanted to wire up the court and figured out we didn't have a conduit.
Q. Radio booth has no -- (inaudible)
DAVID MEEHAN: Upper level of the stadium there is significant number of foreign television broadcast boots and radio booths.
Q. But the ones on the court will have monitors?
DAVID MEEHAN: Yes. There is none in the media work room where we talked about the work stations, you do not have a view of the court from that work room. No, you don't. Radio broadcast would be at the top with the foreign broadcast.
Q. Is it possible to have you -- where we sit in the stadium, the seating those gray seats, we can't see scores on other courts, in other words, if there is an upset ruling on the grandstand, we don't know it. Is it possible to have in the stadium in the press seats some kind of scoreboard giving us scores on other courts at least the feature courts?
DAVID MARKIN: New seats you will be able to see, but even then if you don't, I don't see any reason why we can't put some kind of close circuit machine in there where you can pick up the scores, line scores in a closed circuit machine.
Q. I don't know if it's possible to do it next year but...
DAVID MARKIN: New place you will be able to see the scores where you are. It is -- WE will take another look at it, and we will figure out how to put a close circuit monitor in there so you can see lines scores.
PAGE CROSLAND: Anyone else?
LES SNYDER: I would like to say in closing, Robin, thank you very, very much for giving us the opportunity to talk about what we have got. Thank you.
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