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Retractable roof ready for US Open

Published:Wednesday | August 3, 2016 | 8:00 AM

NEW YORK (AP):

Mother Nature will no longer be a problem at the US Open.

The US Tennis Association yesterday unveiled the new retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in Flushing Meadows.

The roof will be ready when the US Open begins on August 29. The men's final was delayed a day until Monday because of rain for five straight years from 2008-12.

The USTA officials had long maintained that adding a roof over Ashe wasn't feasible. But in 2013, architectural firm Rossetti drew up a workable plan.

"Here at the Billie Jean Tennis Centre, we are making the impossible happen," USTA executive director Gordon Smith said.

The roof over the 23,771-capacity stadium is built to close or open in under seven minutes. It closed with ease during the demonstration, but it took three attempts to reopen it.

SHADE FROM THE ELEMENTS

Wimbledon and the Australian Open already have retractable roofs over the main stadiums. French Open organisers also plan to add one.

The roof is expected to be used only for rain - unlike the Australian Open, which also closes its roof in cases of extreme heat. That roof took two years to complete and cost $150 million.

Ashe's retractable roof features two panels atop a 6,500-ton steel superstructure and is covered to provide shade for the spectators. Some 360 LED sports lights will illuminate the roof and stadium when closed.

"The complexity is mind-boggling because frankly, as you watch the roof in action, it's what you don't see which is fascinating," Rossetti president Matt Rossetti said.

The US Open roof is part of a $500-million-plus renovation paid for by the USTA. The renovation included adding new courts.