Venue News: US Open Plans To Add Nearly 10K Seats; Rockets Boast Largest Arena Video Screens in North America

Compiled by Karen Hogan, Associate Editor, Sports Video Group

Over Labor Day weekend, the spectators packed into stadiums and under umbrellas in the food court at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. They lined up for the women’s (and men’s) rooms in full force. They perched on benches around the grounds and packed into subway trains before and after key matches.  Some 59,971 people filed into the Open on Monday, the latest in a string of some of the biggest crowds ever here. The event has already rewritten the books on attendance, with plans in the works to add as many as 10,000 seats in coming years, according to organizers. This year’s record attendance has been fueled by increased bleacher seating on the outer courts, which now all seat at least 340 spectators each, and Court 17, the fourth-largest court at the Open, now accommodating 2,800 fans…

…After a summer of dramatic renovations left the Rockets’ roster nearly unrecognizable from the previous one, the remodeling high above the court at Toyota Center could prove even more stunning.
It seems certain to be more long-lasting. For the start of the team’s 10th season in Toyota Center, which will include the return of All-Star Weekend to Houston, the Rockets will unveil widespread upgrades to the arena, including the move to high-definition video screens billed as the largest in any North American arena. The enormity of the 1080p screen — it will be 600% larger than the previous screens at approximately 58 feet by 25 feet facing the east and west sides of the arena and 25 feet by 25 feet facing the baselines — is the most obvious change. The Rockets say the extra space on the screen will allow them to do more than they could with the traditional video screens. The entire project — from upgraded Wi-Fi to a new control room to run the video screen and game presentation — will cost roughly $15 million…

…Virginia Beach badly needed its next major development proposal to be an open, community conversation about the city’s future. When news of the next big idea, an arena and an NBA team, broke last week, Mayor Will Sessoms said he’d just met with the companies proposing the plan, that they were courting the city and he wanted the issue to be discussed in public. What he didn’t say, but what records obtained by The Pilot show: Since February 2011, the Virginia Beach Development Authority has secretly spent $678,400 – and authorized up to $216,600 more –  for consultants’ work on a proposal for an arena at the Oceanfront. The authorization was illegal because the authority, a board appointed by the City Council that recruits and negotiates business investment for the city, did not vote on the contracts in public. However, that transgression doesn’t change the proposal itself. With Comcast-Spectacor and Live Nation willing to sign a 25-year lease and find a major league sports team as a tenant, the city still has every reason and duty to determine whether a partnership makes financial sense…

…A recent scrimmage between Texas high schools Carthage and Gladewater wasn’t just about football. It was the first time the new video board on the north end of Bulldog Stadium was displayed to the public and with live action taking place on the field. The new $750,000 video screen and scoreboard was erected this month, thanks to a bond passed earlier this year. Nevco, the company responsible for its construction, says the video board, which measures 26 feet tall and 44 feet wide, is the largest video board at a high school stadium. It will be operated by Carthage High School students taking broadcast journalism classes during games and will feature instant replay.