US Open Report
September 8, 2005
My third and last visit to the US Open this year was on the second Thursday, September 8. This time, I actually bought tickets with my uncle Martin. This leads to the first of my three questions/suggestions:
1. When I ordered the tickets, there was an additional charge for having them e-mailed to me as a PDF file. Now, we just know that Ticketmaster is saving money when it can e-mail the tickets rather than print them up, stick them in an envelope, and put them in snail mail. So why would Ticketmaster charge me extra for the privilege? Because it is a monopoly, or at least an oligopoly. Why isn’t Eliot Spitzer investigating this? And why isn’t the USTA looking for a more fan-friendly way to do business?
2. Speaking of fan-friendly, couldn’t the USTA do more business, and provide more enjoyment for fans, by going from two sessions per day to two and a half? What do I mean? In the first week of the Open, at least, the day session regularly goes past 9:00 p.m. Why not sell a grounds pass that is good from 6:00 p.m. till the conclusion of play, perhaps for $15? By 6:00 p.m., the day crowd is thinning, and there is room on the non-Ashe show courts, not to mention the bigger outside courts like Court 11, for more people. What’s more, a post-6:00 p.m. ticket will be attractive for those who cannot get away during the work day, and I doubt it would cannibalize the market for night session tickets, since some fans want to see the marquee names in Ashe.
3. Finally, why have Armstrong and the Grandstand been shut down since after Labor Day? I understand that there are fewer matches to be played in the second week, and certainly fewer with headline names. But it couldn’t hurt to give serious doubles players a decent stage. The women’s doubles semifinals were played on Thursday on Courts 7 and 11. Would it have been so terrible to play them on Armstrong and the Grandstand? While we’re at it, if grounds passes were available after Labor Day, there would have been a good turnout for those matches.
And thus to Thursday’s matches. During the changeovers at Ashe, there often is classic rock music, much of it from the Beatles. My theme of Thursday — a brilliantly clear and warm day — was a variation on a Beatles title: “I’ll Follow the Shade.” I was not the only one. The first match on Ashe was a men’s doubles semifinal between the first- and fourth-seeded teams. Perhaps 5,000 fans were there for the conclusion, and far fewer for the start. The fans congregated on the south side of the stadium, huddling in the shade provided by the looming press box. My uncle and I started out in our assigned seats in Section 305 (you may see a seating chart for Ashe at http://www.usopen.org/en_US/images/misc/ashe.jpg), and we migrated west as the day went on, staying out of the sun. The big flag on Ashe was at half-mast, presumably for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.