Now that Bryant Park’s Winter Village has closed it shops, you’d think we’d passed the season of pop-ups. Yet just down the street, in Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall, another unusual event extends the season. In fact, a 20 foot giant glass squash court has been sitting in the hallowed terminal for the last week for the JP Morgan Chase’s Tournament of Champions, an annual event every January since 1995.
The spectacle of a giant glass room will draw even those of us who don’t know what a ‘tin’ is, as dozens squeeze around the public viewing area. The Court’s 1-way glass has offered passers by a literal window into this off the radar sport, a steal compared to the cost of the final rounds, which can cost as much as $170 for two matches.
It might not be as easy as it sounds, however. In a period of nearly two hours, only a handful of spectators in the free area moved from the first three rows. One man was scolded repeatedly by security for his growing pile of beer cans beneath him, and had clearly been there for the last 3 hours. Throughout the week, others could be heard making plans to meet up in front of the court for further viewing.
While peering through one-way glass, you meet the gaze of the two squash players as they whale balls straight at your face (The public area is the front wall of the court). While tickets are for the less patient of us, the front wall offers perhaps the best view of the action, assuming you’re at the front. This spot is separated from the court by only a narrow area designated for photographers.
If you’re less patient, then start planning for next year. Tickets in the opening nights were as cheap as $11 for a center row seat. That’ll give you plenty of time to learn the rules of the game to begin with, or perhaps practice your game before you are disheartened as the world’s best show off their game.
The final match of the 2014 Squash “Tournament of Champions” begins on Friday, January 24th (tonight) at 6pm.