The U.S. Open will be underway soon in Queens, and as many local New Yorkers know, it’s far more than a sporting event. Sure, it’s two weeks worth of tennis, and many of the people in attendance are diehard fans. But the U.S. Open is ultimately one of the most enjoyable cultural events held in New York City each year. It’s a treat to visit whether or not you’re a huge tennis fan.
Here are five tips for how to get the most out of it in 2017.
1 – Understand The Ticket Structure
It’s easy to overpay at the U.S. Open if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s because buying what looks like a good seat in one of the stadiums can easily be upwards of $150 on any given day, even in the earliest stages of the tournament. But buying a close-up seat in one of the stadiums is far from the best value experience. Take a look at the various ticketing options, and you’ll find two in particular that are better value. One is the “grounds pass” option, which can be in the $60-$90 range. This gets you access to every single court on the grounds from about 11 AM to 6-7 PM, with the exception of Arthur Ashe Stadium (the biggest arena). Additionally, you can find a seat high up in Ashe Stadium for $100 or a little less. This also functions as a grounds pass, meaning you can see any match you want.
2 – Go Hungry
Concessions are expensive at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, but they’re also a treat. The main food court area has all kinds of different options, from samosas to cheeseburgers to burritos. There are occasionally food trucks set up within the grounds as well, and there are also multiple bar areas where you can get out of the sun (or rain, if it happens) and have a drink in between matches. There’s a festival-like atmosphere to the Open grounds, so remember to take it all in. You’ll enjoy the food and drink.
3 – Know The Favorites
Knowing the top players and tournament favorites is vital at this event, as it can help you plan your ticketing purchases strategically. You never know until the evening before where and when players will be scheduled, but you can still do your best to track the best players or the ones that interest you most. On the men’s side, incredibly, the favorite will be Roger Federer. It was noted heading into the Wimbledon final that Federer had a rare chance to turn back the clock, but he seems to have done so decisively. With Novak Djokovic out of of the field, Federer is the best hard court player remaining (though Rafael Nadal will be in the mix as well). On the women’s side, it’s anybody’s tournament with Serena Williams out expecting her first child. Favorites will include Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova, and Venus Williams.
4 – Catch The Young Americans
Tennis crowds are unlike most sports crowds in that there usually isn’t hard rooting for one player over another. But at the U.S. Open, American fans naturally get a little bit of extra enthusiasm from the fans. That should be a lot of fun this year in particular, as there are several young Americans beginning to emerge at the pro level. Francis Tiafoe is the biggest name to know, but the likes of Jared Donaldson, Michael Mmoh, and Taylor Fritz should also be fun. These players are lower in the rankings at this stage, and that means you might be able to see them on some of the smaller courts, where the atmosphere can be more intimate and the crowd enthusiasm can be a ton of fun.
5 – Be Aware Of Renovations
The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center has undergone significant renovations in recent years, and it’s a good idea to read up on them a little bit so you can appreciate what’s new and understand what’s still a work in progress. The new roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium has gotten the most press, and was fully ready for the first time in 2016. But they’ve also torn down the popular Grandstand arena and rebuilt it across the grounds (it got pretty good reviews from fans in 2016). The biggest remaining step is the rebuilding of Louis Armstrong Stadium – the second biggest after Ashe – and it hasn’t been done yet. For this year’s Open there will be a temporary stadium in Armstrong’s place, which should be interesting to see.