Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Iconic Forest Hills Tennis Stadium Makes A Comeback with Mumford & Sons

For Immediate Release

Contact: Chairman Michael Perlman
Rego-Forest Preservation Council

Iconic Forest Hills Tennis Stadium Makes A Comeback with Mumford & Sons

QUEENS, NY (August 28, 2013) -   The iconic Forest Hills Tennis Stadium at 1 Tennis Place in Forest Hills is reopening as a concert venue on August 28 at 6 PM (doors open at 5 PM). British folk rock group, Mumford & Sons, along with two opening acts, will be the first major concert at the stadium since the 1980s. Over 16,000 tickets were sold within an hour. A reported nearly $1.5 million has been spent to restore and upgrade the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium since June 2013, and future restoration plans and upgrades are envisioned by the West Side Tennis Club and concert producers.

Chairman Michael Perlman of Rego-Forest Preservation Council launched a grassroots campaign in July 2010, calling for the preservation and creative reuse of the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. Meetings with local elected officials and civic associations were held, as well as a petition drive and public relations campaign. That was followed by meetings with the West Side Tennis Club.

In October 2010, a bid by Cord Meyer Development to purchase the stadium parcel, and demolish the majority of the stadium for condos was rejected by the majority of West Side Tennis Club members. Perlman explained, "Disney-esque condos would have torn the heart out of Forest Hills. Mixed-use creative revitalization will likely yield a greater long-term economic return. The stadium has potential for tennis matches, concerts, ice hockey, weddings, exhibits, school trips, charity events, and art festivals.”

Rego-Forest Preservation Council feels the stadium has the potential to be a 21st century family destination, which would bring our communities closer together, boost tourism, convey historic pride, educate our children, assist local businesses through tough economic times, and be an incentive for newer businesses, such as along the Austin Street corridor.
The Forest Hills Tennis Stadium embodies firsts in tennis, music, and architectural history. Designed by famed architect Kenneth Murchison and built by The Foundation Company, it was the first concrete tennis stadium countrywide (1923). It also accommodated National Tennis Championships, the Davis Cup and Wightman Cup, and was the first home of the U.S. Open. It hosted tennis players such as Bill Tilden, Helen Jacobs, Ted Schroeder, Rod Laver, Helen Wills Moody, Billie Jean King, Roger Federer, Don Budge, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, and Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson who broke racial color barriers during a segregated time in tennis history. The stadium also played cinematic roles, and was featured in key scenes of Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers On A Train.

The annual Forest Hills Music Festival and concerts took ground in the late 1950s and continued through the 1980s, featuring the likes of The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross, The Monkees, The Who, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand, Simon & Garfunkel, Trini Lopez, Diana Ross, Donna Summer, and Peter, Paul, & Mary.

Rego-Forest Preservation Council will continue advocating for preservation, restoration, and historically-sensitive upgrades for the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, for the benefit of the stadium, the West Side Tennis Club, and the Forest Hills community and beyond.  

Forest Hills Tennis Stadium photos and memorabilia courtesy of Rego-Forest Preservation Council: