The United States Tennis Association announced on Wednesday that it will reveal designs for a retractable roof to be placed over Arthur Ashe Stadium at a press conference in New York City this morning. The roof is part of large-scale redesigns to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, which has hosted the U.S. Open since 1978. According to the USTA, other upgrades are set to include two new stadiums, southern relocation of courts and a practice courts viewing plaza.
By all accounts, the roof is a long time coming. The timing of the U.S. Open means that the final Grand Slam event of the tennis season arrives in Queens during one of the rainiest times of the year, and in each year since 2008, the men’s singles final has been pushed to Monday. The All-England Club, which hosts the Wimbledon Championships, suffered similar delays on Centre Court before a retractable roof was installed in 2009.
Court Phillippe Chartrier at Roland Garros on the outskirts of Paris now stands as the lone main court of a Grand Slam venue without a retractable roof, though the French Open rarely endures delays that match those at the U.S. Open. Rod Laver Arena—the main court at the year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open—has a retractable roof, though its primary purpose is sparing players from blazing hot Australian summers.
The move by the USTA may have been spurred at least in part by the new contract that ESPN signed to take complete control of the television rights for the tournament. The men’s final is slated for Monday both this year and next, but reverts to Sunday beginning in 2015—the same year that ESPN’s new contract begins. Bloomberg is reporting that the roof could be installed as early as 2016. This year’s U.S. Open begins on Aug. 26.