If you are heading to Queens for this special sports event, here’s what you need to know to experience the US Open on the cheap, from how to get there to how to save money on food and tickets, including FREE admission.
US Open on the Cheap – Tickets
The U.S. Open has three main stadiums where you can purchased assigned seating: Arthur Ashe Stadium, the Louis Armstrong Stadium, and Grandstand. The rest of the courts are on a first-come, first-served basis.
The best deal is a $60 grounds admission ticket is available for the first eight days of the tournament.
Even better deal is the annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day on the Saturday before the tournament begins (tomorrow). Tickets are between $10 and $50. There are concerts and other family-friendly events, and the chance to see tennis stars including Rafael Nadal, Angelique Kerber, Novak Djokovic and Madison Keys.
Today, Friday, is the last day for FREE admission to watch the singles qualifying tournament.
Purchase tickets online. You’ll save time waiting on line at the gate, and you’ll avoid buying an illegal counterfeit ticket hawked by an illegal scammer.
Purchase US Open tickets right here.directly from the US Open.
Find seating maps for all three of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center’s stadiums right here.
See the full schedule of play right here.
There are, of course, the usual – and overpriced – stadium eats, plus some outposts of popular NYC restaurants. Head for The Food Village, a casual food court between stadiums, to find such local favorites as Fuku, Melt Shop, Korilla BBQ, and Hill Country.
Many of those same food stands can be found within the stadiums themselves, such as Lure Fish Bar, near the Grandstand.
Fancier options – and higher prices – can be found at Cafe Spiaggia in the South Plaza, David Burke’s Champions Bar and Grill, and the Mojito Restaurant and Bar, which has a menu inspired by Harlem’s star chef Marcus Samuelsson.
There’s also a US Open signature cocktail, the Honey Deuce. It’s a mix of vodka, lemonade and raspberry liqueur, garnished with bit of frozen melon.
US Open on the Cheap – How to Get There
Take the train, either the subway or the LIRR. Simply, it’s the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to go.
Take the 7 train to the Mets-Willets Point station, follow the ample signage, or follow the crowd on the short walk from the station to the USTA complex.
The Long Island Rail Road also provides access to Mets-Willets Point. Ditto follow the signage or the crowd to the USTA entrance.
Do not drive. Do not take a car service. Even USTA recommends not arriving by car. You’ll be stuck in traffic, and then have the privilege of paying $23 or more to park, if you can find a parking space, since spots are available first-come-first-serve.
And if you wind up in the nosebleed section of the lot, you’ll be waiting for a shuttle bus to take you to the East Gate, which might night be the entrance you want.
As we said, the subway or the LIRR are faster and cheaper.
2018 is the 50th anniversary of the US Open, and also the 40th anniversary of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the longtime home of the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament.
Located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, this massive complex includes 22 tennis courts, as well as nine courts in the adjoining park.
As part of the 2018 US Open, the tennis center is unveiling a the new and improved Louis Armstrong Stadium, the second-largest venue within the overall complex.
It is the second to get a retractable roof, necessary since tennis tournaments are often foiled because of rain, and will seat 14,000 people, up from the previous capacity of 10,200.
Tennis fanatics, sports enthusiasts and celebrities from around the world join us regular New Yorkers descending on Flushing Meadows during the two-week tourney, which this year is August 27 to September 9.
Nearly 700,000 people attended the US Open in 2017. With the opening of the new stadium,the 50th anniversary celebration, and Serena’s return, that number likely will see a major uptick.
- Sloane Stephens is the defending champion in the women’s singles, after beating fellow American Madison Keys to snag her first Grand Slam title last year, making her one of this year’s top contenders.
- Tennis legend Rafael Nadal is the defending champion. On most days he can beat anybody on the tour.
- This year marks the return of living legend Serena Williams, who hasn’t graced the Queens courts since 2016. She’s vying to pick up her 24th Grand Slam title, which would tie the record held by Australian tennis legend Margaret Court.
- Similarly, Roger Federer is always a contender on the men’s side, though his recent quarter-final loss at Wimbledon have raised concerns about whether is at the top of his game for the US Open.
- A resurgent Novak Djokovic, the newly crowed Wimbledon champion, is looking to earn his third title at the U.S. Open.
- On the women’s side, Angelique Kerber, the 2018 Wimbledon champion, has been one of the most consistent players on tour this year. She’s already won this title once in 2016, and expected to be a major threat at Flushing Meadows.
- Be sure to visit The US Open Court of Champions, a display celebrating the legacy of the greatest singles champions in the history of the US Open and U.S. Championships. The FREE attraction is between the South Plaza and Courts 10 and 13
US Open History
2018 is the 40th anniversary of the US Open held at Flushing Meadows, but the tournament itself has been around much longer.
It was known originally as the U.S. National Championships, and has been in existence since 1881.
It was first held on the grass courts of the Newport Casino in Newport, Rhode Island, the summer getaway destination for Gilded Age millionaires and celebrities of the day.
It was restricted to men for the first five years, and only had entrants from tennis clubs that were a part of the United States National Lawn Tennis Association, making it a tournament only open to wealthy Americans.
Women began competing in 1887, but for the first several years, they played out of the Philadelphia Cricket Club.
After much campaigning from tennis players and spectators, the tournament was moved to Forest Hills, Queens in 1915, and remained there for more than 50 years.
The championships have achieved many firsts at Forest Hills:
It became the first of the four Grand Slam tournaments to introduce the final set tiebreak (when a set reaches 6-6 in the other Grand Slams, play continues until a player wins by a difference of two games).
In 1973, it became the first Grand Slam to award equal prize money to both men and women.
The tournament moved to its current home, just three miles from the Forest Hills stadium, in 1978.
Louis Armstrong and the Grandstand opened first, on what was once the Singer Bowl, a venue that debuted during the 1964 World’s Fair and subsequently hosted The Doors, The Who, and other musical acts.
Arthur Ashe opened in 1997, and was named for the late tennis legend, who won the first US Open in 1968.
Over the years, the complex had gone from grass to clay courts and finally settled on hard courts at Flushing Meadows.
It was renamed for trailblazing champion Billie Jean King in 2006.
US Open Additional Information
- The men’s and women’s singles champions will each earn $3.8 million this year, the largest purse ever for the tournament.
- Prize money at the tournament has increased 57 percent since 2013.
- Though its a longer walk, consider entering the tennis center from the south gate to avoid the crowds pouring out of the Mets-Willets Point station and crowd the wooden boardwalk that leads to the entrance.
- Bring a light jacket. You never know when it might get chilly during one of the evening sessions, which sometimes stretch well into the night.
- Bring an umbrella. While all three main stadiums at the U.S. Open now have retractable roofs to protect you from the elements, you don’t want to get rained on while strolling through the grounds.
- Avoid bringing a backpack. You have to stand in a separate line and pay to check backpacks.
- Bring one bag that meets size requirements. The tournament allows one bag per person with the size dimensions of 12”W x 12”H x 16”L. Additional bags need to be checked at $5 per item, and it’s $10 if you’re bringing luggage.
- Bring sunglasses and sunscreen.
- While you’re there, check out some of the other wonders of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, like the Unisphere, which is just a short walk away from the tennis center.