West Side Tennis Stadium Won't Be Sold
Oct 07, 2010 | 4387 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On August 10, members of the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills Gardens heard the pros and cons of selling the land occupied by its 15,000-seat stadium. On Thursday night, the members who were eligible to vote elected to pass on the offer by Cord Meyer Development to construct condominium units within the structure. For the proposal to pass, two-thirds of the members needed to vote in favor. The vote was tied at 123-123.

The historic stadium, which has played host to the U.S. Open and The Beatles, sits on 69th Avenue between Dartmouth and Burns streets on the western edge of the club's 14-acre property in Forest Hills.

The proposal to sell the stadium to help the club's financial situation is nothing new, but over the past two months some members have been battling - in a public way - the notion of selling the stadium to lower the club's debt.

Various plans to sell the stadium have been proposed over the years, according to club members. However, the current proposal was embraced by a greater number of members than in the past, according to insiders at the club.

“It is in the best interest of the long-term growth of the club to consider this plan offered up by a real estate developer,” said Jeff Tabak, chairman of the Stadium Committee, in a phone interview with this media organization in August. “We need to consider this serious opportunity.”

According to the club’s website, the stadium is its centerpiece: “Anchored by its historic stadium, the renowned Tudor-style clubhouse, along with a junior Olympic pool complex, West Side's 14 acres are both a majestic setting and a tranquil oasis in the heart of New York City.”

For many club members, the stadium is the West Side Tennis Club.

“Selling the stadium is akin to cutting the heart out of the club,” said Ray Fitzmartin, who is considered by many the unofficial club historian.

From 1915 through 1977, the U.S. Open tennis championships were held at the West Side Tennis Club. Along with tennis events, the stadium also played host to several high-profile concerts, including Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan.

By the late 70s, the popularity of the U.S. Open skyrocketed, and the 15,000-seat Forest Hills stadium had become too small to handle the crowds. The USTA moved the Open to Flushing Meadows Corona Park in 1978.

With the indecisive vote, it is unclear how the board will move to secure the future and growth of the club. Last summer's tennis camp for children was well attended, as is the new Tennis Academy program in conjunction with The Kew Forest School.

Read more about the vote on the Forest Hills Gardens Blog.
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