US Open: Why is the Louis Armstrong Stadium named after the jazz legend?

30 August 2020, 15:03

Louis Armstrong
Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

As the world of tennis descends upon New York this fortnight, one question will likely arise: why is the second biggest stadium named after Louis Armstrong?

The jazz legend and New Orleans native is a true American icon, but not the first person you'd think of when it comes to tennis, or even New York.

So why is it called the Louis Armstrong Stadium?

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The short answer, is that Satchmo was a resident just down the road from the site of the US Open for a number of years, until his death at the age of 69 in 1971.

Not only that, but the stadium wasn't always used for tennis.

Louis Armstrong Stadium
Louis Armstrong Stadium. Picture: Getty

The stadium was originally build as the 'Singer Bowl' for the 1964 New York World's Fair, and went on to host various concerts and events.

In the early 1970s, the United States Tennis Association needed a new place to host the US Open, and the association's incoming president, WE Hester saw the old Singer Bowl from the window of an airplane flying into LaGuardia Airport.

They ended up heavily renovating the old, long rectangular stadium, divided it into two venues, becoming the square Louis Armstrong Stadium, with the remaining third becoming the Grandstand.

Until 1997, it was the main US Open stadium, before it was replaced by Arthur Ashe Stadium. The old Louis Armstrong Stadium was updated for the 2018 US Open, and now has a retractable roof and 14,000 seats.