The USTA has announced a series of enhanced fan experiences and expanded programming for the 2011 U.S. Open that will include new musical entertainment, upgrades to the facility, new mobile technology offerings and a full slate of activities for the sports youngest fans.
This year’s Opening Night ceremony will celebrate youth tennis in an innovative way that will incorporate player images and special lighting effects for the first time, as well as a musical performance by Taio Cruz. Following Cruz, young singer Greyson Chance will perform the Star Spangled Banner.
On Finals Weekend, the USTA and the U.S. Open will remember those whose lives were lost on Sept. 11, 2001, with a pair of pre-match ceremonies in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Prior to the start of the prime-time women’s singles final on Saturday, Sept. 10, there will be a special performance by Grammy and Emmy Award-winner Cyndi Lauper. On Sunday, Sept.r 11, Queen Latifah–musician, television and film actress, label president and author–will preside over a tribute before the start of the men’s singles final. For both the women’s and men’s singles championships “9-11-01” will be painted on the stadium court as part of this memorial tribute.
The USTA will unveil a new show court, Court 17, for this year’s tournament. The court will have full television capabilities, state-of-the-art video screens, and will include the Chase Review electronic line calling system. All match play on this court will be part of USOpen.org’s live streaming. Court 17 will seat more than 2,500, making it the fourth-largest court at the U.S. Open. The court will become the sixth television court for the tournament.
Continuing with musical entertainment, the USTA will present its first-ever pre-tournament U.S. Open concert. Entitled “U.S. Open Rock the Set, presented by Heineken,” this private, invitation-only concert will feature Brooklyn-based indie rock band Matt & Kim, and mash-up phenom Girl Talk at Terminal 5, one of New York City’s most popular new music venues. The concert is set for Wednesday, Aug. 24.
Below is a comprehensive list of the major activities, new programs, offerings and fan enhancements at the 2011 U.S. Open, which takes place from Aug. 29-Sept.11 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, N.Y.
►U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament: The U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament is a free week of tennis, starting Tuesday, Aug. 23, and running through Friday, Aug. 26. The tournament features one of the largest player fields in the world (256 singles players) and offers $1 million in prize money. This year, the USTA is upgrading the fan experience during Qualifying by adding video boards, opening the entire Food Court for the first time, and adding player autograph sessions and 10-and-Under Tennis demonstrations.
►U.S. Open Rock the Set presented by Heineken: On Wednesday, Aug. 24 in Hell’s Kitchen’s multilevel musical venue Terminal 5, the U.S. Open will hold its first-ever pre-tournament U.S. Open Concert. Dubbed “U.S. Open Rock the Set presented by Heineken,” this private, invitation-only concert will feature noted indie rockers Matt & Kim, followed by the master of mash-ups, Girl Talk.
►U.S. Open American Express Fan Experience: Just outside the USTA’s indoor tennis facility at Arthur Ashe, American Express will unveil a new fan area will provide a host of amenities and attractions for those attending the 2011 U.S. Open, providing both American Express Cardmembers and all fans with information on how to play and view the game.
►U.S. Open National Playoffs: For the second year, the USTA invited all tennis players over the age of 14 to “Dream Big” and compete for a spot in the U.S. Open Qualifying Tournament by entering the U.S. Open National Playoffs. New this year was a mixed-doubles competition, with the winning team earning a main draw wild card into the mixed-doubles competition at the 2011 U.S. Open. The final tournaments for all three competitions (men’s, women’s and mixed) will take place at the New Haven Open at Yale, an Olympus U.S. Open Series event.
►10-and-Under Tennis Exhibition: The 10-and-Under Tennis play format will be demonstrated for the first time in Arthur Ashe Stadium during the night session on Thursday, Sept. 8. The demonstration will feature top young tennis players. The USTA also will open one of the field courts over Labor Day Weekend for fans to play 10-and-Under Tennis, which is changing the way tennis is being taught to young players.
►U.S. Open Fan Patrol: Fans sitting in the promenade section of Arthur Ashe Stadium will enjoy this new “experience” at the 2011 U.S. Open. During night sessions, fans will be entertained by visiting former players and other celebrities, and will be treated to a series of prize giveaways and other interactive contests.
►The ICON Awards ... A USTA Event: The U.S. Open’s premiere event to celebrate diversity and inclusion in the sport of tennis and in society, formerly known as “Breaking the Barriers,” has been renamed The Icon Awards: A USTA Event. The event will be held in the Chase Center on Tuesday, Sept. 6. For the first time, the Billie Jean King Legacy Award will be presented to an individual who embodies the word “icon.” Musical entertainment will be provided by Dia Frampton, the runner-up in the inaugural season of the television show, “The Voice.”
►U.S. Open Draw Show on ESPN’s “SportsCenter:" This year, the U.S. Open draw, scheduled to take place on Thursday, Aug. 25 at noon ET, will be presented live on ESPN’s SportsCenter. The draw will be conducted in Interview Room One within Arthur Ashe Stadium. Defending U.S. Open champions Rafael Nadal and Kim Clijsters are expected to be on-hand for the Draw Show.
►Microphones in the Players Boxes: For the second year, microphones have been installed in the player boxes in Arthur Ashe Stadium, which will help viewers get even closer to the emotion and drama of the U.S. Open by adding the perspective of the players’ guests as matches unfold.
►Television Fly Cameras: Two television fly cameras–one over Arthur Ashe Stadium and one running from Louis Armstrong Stadium across the South Plaza–will allow fans an overhead perspective of the excitement of the U.S. Open.
►3D-TV: Following its Emmy-Award winning debut, the USTA, CBS Sports and Panasonic are bringing 3D-TV back to the U.S. Open with expanded domestic and international distribution. New camera positions in Arthur Ashe Stadium will include a robotic camera on the umpire’s chair and new 3D-specific baseline camera positions. Plans also call for 3D cameras to capture the action in Louis Armstrong Stadium for the first time.
►Live Online Streaming: After USOpen.org introduced the most extensive live streaming in the history of the U.S. Open in 2010, the official Web site of the U.S. Open will go even further this year with U.S. Open Live. Again, all matches from all television courts will be streamed live for free within the United States, with fans able to stream up to six matches simultaneously on their computer or tablet device. New for 2011 will be the ability to stream matches during Labor Day weekend and Finals Weekend live via iPhone and Android devices.
►Mobile Enhancements: For the first time ever, fans on-site at the Open will be able to order select U.S. Open merchandise from their mobile device and pick up their order either as they depart the venue, or have the merchandise delivered to a suite in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Working with IBM, USOpen.org will offer its popular iPhone app again and introduce its first Android app. Both apps will provide users live scores, draws, schedules, videos, news, features and other tournament information. Additionally, for the first time, live video streaming will be available via both apps during Labor Day weekend and Finals Weekend. Once again, the iPhone app will offer users on-site an “augmented reality” where they can take virtual tours of the U.S. Open grounds. The feature uses GPS and camera functionality to allow fans to scan the grounds and “look through walls” to check live scores and stats on specific courts, and show locations and distances of food options, restrooms, first aid facilities, wheelchair accessibility and other information around the grounds of the U.S. Open. USOpen.org will also be available in a mobile-friendly format for all Web-enabled mobile devices, and fans can sign up for up to 250 different free mobile alerts, including scores, breaking news, and weather updates.
►Social Media Integration: In addition to providing interactive viral tournament updates to fans via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the U.S. Open will also allow fans who check in to the U.S. Open on either Facebook or Foursquare to receive tips and exclusive offers from the USTA and select U.S. Open sponsors, including American Express. Throughout the tournament fans on Facebook will be able to help determine the video content that appears on USOpen.org, as well as daily merchandise specials available on USOpenShop.org. Users will also be able to submit questions to USOpen.org Radio presented by American Express via Twitter, and the official U.S. Open iPhone App will aggregate tweets from the U.S. Open and the tournament’s top-seeded players.
►Doubles Exhibition: On Thursday night, Sept. 8, the U.S. Open will feature a special doubles exhibition with world-renowned entertainer Will Ferrell, Tennis Hall of Famers John McEnroe and Jim Courier, and other special guests.
►Follow Me to the U.S. Open: Fans can connect with the Olympus U.S. Open Series all summer long via the “Follow Me to the US Open” contest at FollowMeToTheUSOpen.org. The contest engages tennis fans via social media, online media, traditional media and on-site assets at all Olympus U.S. Open Series events, as well as during each broadcast. One grand prize winner will receive a trip to the 2012 U.S. Open and a one-hour hitting session in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
►Family Day: The U.S. Open is holding its third annual Family Day on Tuesday, Aug. 30. Parents accompanied by children 14-and-under can sit together in reserved seating in Louis Armstrong Stadium. The day’s activities will feature a family scavenger hunt, giveaways, and family-friendly entertainment attractions. An exclusive family breakfast, located in the Corporate Hospitality Pavilion in the Chase Center, also is available as a ticket package that includes early access to SmashZone and a VIP gift bag.
►Kids Nightly Anthems: A tradition at the U.S. Open, children selected from auditions at the U.S. Open Casting Call held at Harlem’s world-famous Apollo Theater in early June will perform in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Out of nearly 200 children who tried out, 14 were selected to perform. Children from around the country auditioned for this one-of-a-kind opportunity.
►SmashZone: The premier fan interactive attraction in tennis, SmashZone will return to the 2011 U.S. Open after its first nationwide tour that visited 20 cities from coast-to-coast, including a visit to tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo. The 20,000-square-foot interactive experience, which features the 10-and-Under Tennis play format and special guest appearances on our “Center Court,” is located in the Chase Center.
►Green Initiatives: The U.S. Open Green Initiative began as a pilot program in 2008 and has expanded each year, all with the goal of making the U.S. Open an environmentally-responsible and eco-friendly event. For the first time, all service ware in the U.S. Open Food Village will be 100 percent compostable, and the program will continue the site-wide composting begun last year. Hybrid vehicles will make up 60 percent of the Mercedes-Benz player transportation fleet in the automaker’s second year as the U.S. Open’s official transportation provider, and Esurance will sponsor this year’s MetroCard giveaway, in which 125 fans each day will win a round-trip MetroCard to encourage the use of mass transit to the U.S. Open.
►U.S. Open Gallery–International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum: This year, the U.S. Open Gallery, located along with the U.S. Open Bookstore in the Chase Center, will feature a special exhibit entitled “Serving Their Countries: Tennis and War.” The gallery also will feature a special photography exhibition of Arthur Ashe, photographed by Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, the late champion’s wife of 17 years.
►U.S. Open Court of Champions Induction: Richard “Pancho” Gonzalez will be inducted into the U.S. Open Court of Champions in a ceremony to be held on Saturday, Sept. 3. Gonzalez won back-to-back U.S. National Championships singles titles in 1948 and 1949, and was considered by many to be one of the most gifted and driven competitors in the history of the sport.
►Wheelchair Tennis: The 2011 U.S. Open Wheelchair Competition, taking place Sept. 8-11, will feature 20 of the worlds’ top wheelchair athletes. Now in its sixth year, the competition will feature Men’s, Women’s and Quad division including both singles and doubles play. Wheelchair tennis follows the same rules as able-bodied tennis, except that the ball can bounce twice.
►Record Prize Money: The 2011 U.S. Open purse will top $23.7 million, marking the fourth consecutive year that the tournament’s prize money has increased by at least $1 million. Both the men’s and women’s U.S. Open singles champions will earn a record $1.8 million with the ability to earn an additional $1 million in bonus prize money based on their performances in the Olympus U.S. Open Series. The top three men’s and top three women’s finishers in the Olympus U.S. Open Series Bonus Challenge will together earn up to an additional $2.6 million in bonus prize money, which provides a potential total payout of $26.3 million.