Yesterday was opening day for the 2013 U.S. Open Tennis Championship in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. Expected to attract over 700,000 fans, the area will be buzzing with tennis fever until Sunday, September 8th. But did you know that the original U.S. Open Tournament was played in the Forest Hill Tennis Stadium? The first U.S. Open was played there in 1915 and has hosted stars such as Billie Jean King, Margaret Court and Bill Tilden in its illustrious history. In 1978, the tournament moved to the much larger space in Flushing Meadows and the Forest Hills Stadium declined into a tired-looking remnant of its past. Though threatened with demolition, recent plans may give it a new lease on life.

Forest Hills Tennis Stadium-Queens-NYC-US Open-InteriorImage via Rego-Forest Preservation

The Stadium has indeed come a long way since 2010. This was when the West Side Tennis Club (WSTC), which owns the Stadium, considered selling it to a condo developer in October 2010. Largely due to the efforts of Michael Perlman, chair of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council, there is still hope for Forest Hills.

Forest Hills Tennis Stadium-Queens-NYC-US Open-ExteriorImage via Rego-Forest Preservation

The Tennis Stadium plans to start holding concerts again, a nod back to the concerts during its heyday. During the 1960s, the stadium was vibrant on the music scene, hosting legends such as Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan and the Beatles. In the late 1980s though, the Club had to stop concerts because of the vehement opposition from area residents complaining about the raucous crowds, litter and parking problems.

Club officials want to reinvigorate Forest Hills, claiming that they want to have 19 concerts over the next 3 years. Accelerated renovation (at a $1.5 million price tag) has rendered the structure safe and sound, according to city requirements. English band, Mumford & Sons will be playing there on August 28th.

Despite the anticipated hype behind the Mumford concert, the promoters are treading lightly, only planning on hosting the one concert this year. Aware of the Forest Hills Gardens neighbourhood, they want to convince the residents that such concerts will not be a nuisance. This is one of the top priorities of WSTC’s president, Roland Meier. During the Mumford concert, fans will enter the stadium through a newly created entrance, away from the residential areas. A curfew will also be enforced around 10pm to keep noise levels to a minimum as much as possible. Meier is committed to making Forest Hills Stadium a success for the neighbourhood, the Club and the fans.

Forest Hills Tennis Stadium-Queens-NYC-US Open-Tennis ClubForest Hills Tennis Club Image via Rego-Forest Preservation 

He maintains that the stadium has a great history that deserves to see a great many events taking place. Each concert would mean more money generated, which could in turn be invested back into upgrading the Stadium. In the long run, Meier hopes that the Open Tennis Championship will once again return to its former home.

For more information on the Rego-Forest Preservation Council, visit their website. Alternatively, you can chart Perlman’s progress with the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium through his pieces for Untapped Cities:

Preservation Campaign Underway For America’s Tennis Stadium

A possible future for the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium.

More recently, Perlman has been involved with saving New York City’s vintage diners.