AEG has inked a long-term booking and concert promotion agreement for the historic Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, the former home of the first U.S. Open Tennis Championship. AEG-owned Madison House Presents will exclusively present 15 to 20 shows a year at the 13,000-capacity stadium still owned and operated by the West Side Tennis Club. AEG will lead a renovation and redesign of the stadium's concourse, seating and concessions and create new "speakeasy" VIP areas with hidden entry points, including a suite that can only be accessed via secret passage through a fake port-a-potty.
"We're really lucky someone hasn't taken a leak in there," jokes Madison House's Mike Luba, who spearheaded the renovations, which include reconfiguring the floor to create "one of the largest GA seating sections in North America," he tells Billboard. Madison House also reconfigured the entry concourse and gave it a more open, functional feel and expanded the number of VIP spaces from four to nine.
"We went back to the original architectural drawings of the stadium," Luba tells Billboard, embracing the 10 decades of history at the stadium where Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson became the first African-Americans to win the U.S. Open. Forest Hills Stadium was used as a filming location for Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train and Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums and has hosted concerts by the Rolling Stones, the Doors, Bob Dylan and the Beatles, who famously landed a helicopter on the court in 1964. The U.S. Open tournament left for Flushing Meadows in 1977, and the facility's 38 courts and stadium are now operated by the 125-year-old West Side Tennis Club, one of New York's oldest.