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Great Venue for the US Open
May 14, 2005 (Updated May 14, 2005)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
User Rating: Excellent
Pros:Well-maintained, many opportunities to watch top players up close.
Cons:Expensive, few good seats at Arthur Ashe.
The Bottom Line: Definitely worth going to the Open. There are many poor seats at Arthur Ashe, however, and the best seats are not worth the high prices early in the tournament.
I have been going to the US Open at the National Tennis Center (NTC) nearly every year since the early 1990s. It has improved greatly over the years, although it is often very expensive.
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Accessibility: The NTC is located in the Flushing section of Queens, adjacent to Shea Stadium. It is relatively easy to access from the metro area via train/subway, and there is always plenty of room for parking. When the Mets have a home game, however, you might have to walk 10 minutes from the parking area. Traffic is usually minimal if you arrive early, and there is usually no traffic leaving because match times are staggered.
Security: The security lines at the NTC can be long at the start of each session, and all bags are checked. I have always been able to get in with small amounts of food (I think they allow this), which I recommend doing because food prices are very high inside.
Environment: The NTC's environment is always very good, as there are many restaurants and stores around. You can find numerous places to buy US Open memorabilia, a large fast-food court with many options (hamburgers/sandwiches, chicken, pasta, pizza, Mexican food, seafood, breakfast items, pastries, and desserts), and a few restaurants (one is Mexican style and I think the others are American). In terms of the tennis courts, there is Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong, the Grandstand, a few outer courts with large seating areas, and about 15 outside courts with minimal seating, many of which are for practice.
Seats: For the Arthur Ashe Stadium, there is Courtside, Loge, and Promenade seating. I do not recommend going to this stadium during the first week, as matches are generally one-sided, prices are high, and good seats are difficult to obtain. Courtside seating is always very expensive, with average day session prices about $250 (11AM- about 6 PM). I believe the best Loge seats are in the low $100s, and Promenade seats are around $50. Prices are lower for the night session, but this is only two matches. If you are willing to pay the money, the Courtside seats are all great, as are the lower Loge seats (rows A-D). These are just above the TV cameras and corporate suites, so it is like watching on TV. By the way, each row letter in the Loge contains two rows, so row D is actually rows 7-8 and not row 4. I would not recommend going much beyond D, as these seats can be very high up. I have never sat in the Promenade, as I would prefer to watch on TV for free. In general, I try to get Courtside seats when I go to Arthur Ashe.
Louis Armstrong Stadium contains reserved seats in the lower area (which I would not bother buying, as you will not be allowed in Arthur Ashe anyway), and open seating past the first 10 rows. Arrive early if you want the best Armstrong seats, as you will be able to see great matches up close. The Grandstand court is all open seating, and you can sit in the front row if you get there early enough.
Grounds Passes are also available for a lower price, but you will not allowed in Arthur Ashe. This is the best value, especially during the first week when outer courts have the most competitive matches.
Food: Food is very expensive, with basic items such as sandwiches, individual pizzas, pastas, etc. costing about $10 for an average-sized portion. There are many healthier and vegetarian options, which is good because I prefer eating that type of food. Last year, I tried pasta marinara and a vegetable burrito (each about $10), both of which were as good as food from an above-average restaurant. Water and sodas are also offered at high prices, as are alcoholic beverages. The food is of good quality and there is something for everyone, so it isn't a bad choice if you are willing to spend the money.
Staff: The employees in the food court and stores are always very polite and helpful, although I have never been to the restaurants. Arthur Ashe stadium also has a large staff of ushers, who are mostly elderly and always friendly. If you have Courtside seats, they will take you to your seats and wipe them with a towel, and they usually expect a tip. The Loge section is also patrolled, but not as carefully.
Conclusion: The NTC is a great venue for the US Open, although it is not worth paying for quality Arthur Ashe seats during the first week of the tournament. Also, it is best to avoid Promenade and upper Loge seats at Arthur Ashe; it would be better to sit in the best seats at the Armstrong, Grandstand, or side courts. The event gets 5 stars, but I will take off one star for the high prices and the abundance of poor seats at Arthur Ashe, for a total 4-star rating.
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Parking Availability: Busy But Manageable
Seat Location: Lower Level
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