The 1997 US Open found a new home at the USTA National Tennis Center in Queens, NY, earlier this year. Designed by Rossetti Associates Architects, the expanded facility encompasses 46.5 acres (19 hectares) and includes the 23,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium, the 20,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium, and a 5,500-seat grandstand. Matches were held on 36 outdoor courts, with TV coverage provided in three new studios by CBS, USA Network, and DSF Germany. I worked in lighting-related capacities for the two US-based stations.
CBS lighting designer Lonnie Juli lit a brand new set in Studio 3, as well as the broadcast booth for the Arthur Ashe Stadium. A large rental package from BASH Lighting included 575W and 1.2, 2.5, and 4kW HMIs that lit the on-air booths in the three stadiums. The studio lighting package included four High End Systems Cyberlight(R) CVs, and numerous baby 2k fresnels, Arri 650W fresnels, ETC Source Fours, and gobo rotators. The CBS crew also lit the hallway between the locker rooms and the court for camera crews covering the players before and after their matches.
Bruce Ferri of New York City Lites, LD for USA's new set in Studio 2, was asked two days before the Open to provide TV lighting for the main player interview room and light a 360-degree set. Production Arts responded with a package of Lighttech series 155 and 255 CFLs that boosted light levels for the many electronic news gathering (ENG) cameras and still photographers conducting post-match player interviews. Studio 2 lighting equipment also included 10" scoops and a Snapshot board that backed up an ETC Impression. Ferri and Juli also provided lighting packages for the host position by the main gate for their respective stations.
In Studio 1, DSF Germany had its own set and lighting; the package included Balcar fluorescent units. Three other smaller rooms were used for ENG crew setups and interviews.
During the two weeks of US Open coverage, the USTA National Tennis Center became a small city of production that functioned around the clock. The loading dock was jammed with supply trucks, ambulances on standby, production trailers, golf carts, and even Monica Seles' Mercedes-Benz on occasion. And after everyone else had gone home, cleaning crews took over the stands to prepare for the next day's matches--and the lighting tasks they entailed.