The U.S. Open is in its final weekend. A men’s champion will be crowned on Sunday, with Roger Federer taking on Novak Djokovic in a battle between the top two players in the world.
The tournament takes place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens and the event reportedly brings $750 million to the New York City economy, according to several studies. What goes into that substantial sum?
The most recent study of the U.S. Open’s economic impact, which was performed by consulting firm AKRF in 2010, “found that the tournament generates approximately $756 million in direct revenue for the tri-state area—more than any other sports or entertainment event in any city in the United States,” according to a spokesperson from the United States Tennis Association.
“We think that … has probably exceeded $800 [million] at this point,” said USTA Chief Operating Officer Danny Zausner during an interview with Fortune at his office inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, the U.S. Open’s biggest show court, which boasts a 17,000 fan capacity. “We know that the two main factors for that are 16% of fans are coming from international locations and, in total, 40% of fans are coming from outside of the tri-state area.” That means tennis fans spend several days in New York City, stay in hotels, eat at local restaurants, and, of course, fly in and out of the state.
The U.S. Open employs 7,000 seasonal workers to ensure the event runs smoothly. These people hold jobs in food services, security, and ticketing. Also factored into the tournament’s economic earnings: transportation to and from the event, including those taking the 7 train and paying Metro Card fares and paying for Long Island Railroad tickets. Some 60% of the more than 700,000 fans that attended in 2014 took public transportation. Then there’s money paid to the state via sales tax, rent to the city, and construction, which includes an ambitious $600 million project to expand the grounds.
Looking back and forward
This year’s event marks the 100th year since the first tournament was played at the Westside Tennis Club, the predecessor to the current location, although there was a tournament first played for men in 1881.
Along with the grounds expansion at the U.S. Open, the USTA has ambitious plans to construct a new office in Orlando, Florida, moving away from the current location in White Plains, New York. The USTA is calling it the “new home for American tennis,” and it will include a facility with over 100 tennis courts where the organization’s player development and community tennis departments will be based. It’s scheduled to be built during the fourth quarter of 2016. The project is a collaboration with Tavistock Group, a private investment company.
The new facility couldn’t come at a better time for the USTA, which has been struggling to boost the number of active players, especially among youth.
So, it looks like the USTA is set to have one foot in New York and the other in Florida, following in the footsteps of many of the organization’s elderly Queens neighbors. “We’re investing quite a bit of money to transform the home of the U.S. Open over the next five years to become the greatest tennis center in the world. With Lake Nona, we see that being the home of American tennis,” said Dave Haggerty, former chief executive of the USTA. “But the Open has a cherished history here in New York and with the investments were making, certainly the Open continues. But the training for a lot of Americans who may be playing at the Open, or in junior events, or national events, can take place in Lake Nona.”
The U.S. Open in photos
The 2015 U.S. Open is winding down this year with a men’s champion soon to be named. Fortune took a look at some of the most impactful images of the tournament’s past. Note: Captions below via Getty Images and the archives of the tournaments.
First U.S. National Championship, 1881
An event called the U.S. National Championship was first held for men in 1881 in Newport, Rhode Island. It’s considered a precursor to the tournament held in New York City today.
Move to West Side Tennis Club, 1915
The first U.S. Open featuring men and women’s players in Forest Hills, Queens was held at the West Side Tennis Club in 1915. It was referred to as the U.S. National Championships at the time. The photo shows two competitors for the 1916 U.S. National Championship, R. Norris Williams and Bill Johnston, which was held on August 28-Sept. 5, 1916.
Don Bulge wins first ever Grand Slam, 1938
American Donald Budge became the first Grand Slam winner after taking all four Major tennis tournaments (Australian Championships, French Championships, Wimbledon Championships, and U.S. National Championships) in a single calendar year. The photo shows Budge in Oakland, California on December 12, 1938, with a few of the trophies he has collected during his career.
Maureen Connolly becomes the first woman ever to win the Grand Slam, 1953
Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly fails to return the ball to Althea Gibson in the National Tennis championships in Queens, N.Y., on September 5, 1953.
Arthur Ashe wins first U.S. Open, 1968
Arthur Ashe holds a trophy after defeating Tom Okker (left), of the Netherlands, to win the U.S. Open on September 10, 1968. The first African-American to play on the U.S. Davis Cup team and the first black male to win the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, Ashe was voted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985.
Men and women are awarded equal prize money for the first time, 1973
Billie Jean King speaks about gender equality before the Senate education subcommittee in Washington.
Night tennis makes its debut and the introduction of clay courts, 1975
Night tennis makes its debut at the 1975 US Open—the first of three U.S. Opens played on clay courts. The lights at the West Side Tennis Club shine on one of the greatest comebacks in tennis history as Manuel Orantes upsets top-seeded and defending champion Jimmy Connors, in the men’s singles final. Taken on September 8, 1975.
Move to USTA National Tennis Center, 1978
The tournament moved from the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, Queens to the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens. The tournament also switched from clay courts to hard courts at the time.
Venus Williams defeats Serena Williams, 2001
Venus Williams claims her second U.S. Open title, making history by playing the first women’s tennis final in prime time at the tournament. It was also the first time two black tennis players faced one another in a major final.
Renaming the U.S. Open venue the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, 2006
Diana Ross sings during a ceremony in honor of the renaming.
Instant replay first used, 2006
Technicians using the Hawk-Eye electronic system monitor computer screens used in instant replay at the Nasdaq 100 Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Fla.
Arthur Ashe stadium is getting a new roof, 2015
A general view of the new roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium during the match between Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia and Ana Ivanovic of Serbia on day one of the 2015 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The U.S. Open has constructed a roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium, which is set to be complete for the 2016 tournament.