The new roof at Arthur Ashe stadium has generated a lot of noise — literally — and not everyone is thrilled about it.
During the first week of the U.S. Open, fans were treated to a dry environment even as rain poured from the skies, and it was all thanks to a new $150 million retractable roof. But while fans were shielded from the rain, they certainly were not shielded from each others’ voices. And now, a sport known for its polite claps and mellow crowd is suddenly very, very loud.
On multiple occasions on a rainy Thursday night, chair umpire Eva Asderaki-Moore found herself saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, please, your voices are carrying to the court.” And while this isn’t necessarily an unusual request (things certainly tend to get raucous during the later stages of the tournament), noise level is now a bigger problem than ever, thanks to the new acoustics of the roof-enclosed stadium.
The increased sound is already presenting a problem to star players, with Andy Murray noting during a recent press conference, “When the rain came it was certainly loud. You can’t hear anything, really. You could hear the line calls, but not so much when the opponent’s hitting the ball or even when you’re hitting the ball, really, which is tough purely because we’re not used to it. That’s what makes it challenging.”
And as tennis writer Ben Rothenberg noted via Twitter, the noise within Arthur Ashe during Rafael Nadal’s match against Andreas Seppi was comparable to the noise level of a food blender.
“In tennis, normally you are used to playing with silence,” Nadal told reporters after his own match. “With the new court, even if the roof is open, there is noise out there. It’s probably not the fault of the people, because I have been playing here for so many years and don’t remember that noise when you are playing. It was a little bit strange. For moments, it was a little bit too much during the points.”
Looks like “raising the roof” isn’t always such a good thing after all.