Monday, September 04, 2006

US Open

With my fiance's mom in town, we made plans to go the US Open in Flushing, New York yesterday.

Let me start off by saying that the experience was pretty fun, overall.
Let me follow that up by saying I am unlikely to ever do it again.

First off, you can't actually drive and park at the US Open. The place is a private tennis club most of the year, and only has enough parking for a few hundred people. So when the US Open rolls around, you've really got no choice but to take mass transit.

NYC is a hike on mass transit if you live in Wilmington and don't want to take the Accela (which you usually don't unless work is paying for it). So it took us about 4 hours each way to make it there by driving to Trenton, taking the much cheaper Northeast Corridor train on NJ Transit, and then hopping on the 7.

Well, the NYC transit system is pretty good, but even it was having trouble accommodating the sheer volume of people going to not just the US Open, but a parade happening at the same time.

When we got there, we had to get right back into another line because you could not bring a backpack onto the grounds. I am told that this is stated clearly on the website, but I don't see it even after the fact. So it's right into another hour long line to check our backpack. So much for that bright idea.

At around noon now, with the coveted Agassi match already an hour old, I am finally out of that line with my bag claim ticket and ready to enter. Meanwhile, Julie and her mom have been standing in ANOTHER line because they have purses, which also need to be searched.

We finally sit down at 12:30, a full HOUR AND A HALF after we arrived at the place. It has taken us a full five and a half hours to actually see tennis.

So anyway, I got a sunburn and saw Agassi's somewhat... uh... "soft" retirement speech, and also saw Roddick win. As the evening rolled around I was excited about seeing Serena, but as I looked around I realized that the stadium was really only half full.

One of the things they do is split the matches into "morning" and "evening" sessions. Now because of the last two days of rain, we got to see an extra match. But 38,000 people were standing outside waiting to get in starting at 7 PM for the evening session, while Serena is playing to a half empty crowd in Arthur Ashe. But no, they stubbornly wait until the match is over at about 7:30, and then ask everyone to exit so they can clean the stadium before the "evening" matches begin (it looked pretty dark to me during the Serena match).

At any rate, when we finally got out of there (after waiting in ANOTHER line to get the backpack), it was about 8 PM and there were 38,000 people STILL waiting to get in. It was quickly turning ugly.

It was altogether the most poorly organized professional sporting event I have ever seen.

I understand that they had a lot of matches to play, and it was probably a logistical nightmare trying to accommodate people who had tickets the previous two days, but altogether I'm just not sure this facility should be hosting an event as big as the US Open. It's probably just as good or better than Wimbledon or any of the other major hosts, but still, it was a mess.

In the end I had fun (despite almost passing out early on due to heat), but the whole thing smacked of New York City-syndrome to me: "you'll put up with this shit because we're New York dammit, and we're better than you."


chornbe said...

"It was altogether just about the worst organized professional sporting event I have ever seen."

Wow. That's pretty intense. Tennis seems to have this slightly upscale air about it. I'm surprised and sorry it was not a better experience for you. :\

robustyoungsoul said...

To clarify, the organization was terrible. The tennis was pretty good.

Viki H said...

C'mon Yeager. All you had to do in your pre-fiesta excitement was

1) visit the US Open website (a jam-packed eyesore of a navigational nightmare if I ever saw one . . .)

2) Click "Visiting the Open" on the top nav bar

3) Click "security info"

4) Read item number 7 on that list

In four simple steps, you could have been notified in small print that your backpack was forbotten!

Now, can we really blame the US Open if you weren't 'Merican enough to surf the site thoroughly, scouring it for information on the ludicrous steps the planners were taking to ensure your safety from the big bad tennis-hating terrorists?