The United States Tennis Association (USTA) Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City has become an essential part of the city’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The indoor training facility in the borough of Queens has been transformed into a hospital while the stadium has become a food commissary, serving frontline workers and underprivileged school children.
In a video series TIME is producing with Katie Couric, Danny Zausner, the COO of the USTA National Tennis Center, which typically hosts the U.S. Open every August, says they received a phone call from Gov. Andrew Cuomo who was looking for space to put hospital beds.
“I mean we’re happy to be able to make a contribution, believe me, compared to what others are doing we’re just scratching the surface,” Zausner says. “This is just a very small part, and the USTA, I can speak on behalf of the whole organization when I say we’re thrilled to be able to make even a very small contribution by providing some of our facilities.”
Zausner said the city hired a company from Galveston, Texas, that was responsible for the facility’s conversion. The company brought in the hospital beds along with the respiratory equipment. Zausner says that in seven days, 150 hospital beds were ready for use.
Inside the food area, 25,000 meals are boxed up each day from Restaurant Associates, with whom the facility has partnered for the past 40 years. These boxed meals are distributed every day throughout the city.
Zausner said they’re hopeful that the U.S. Open will happen this August but that a lot of decisions have to be made between now and then.
“Right now we’re going to keep planning for the Open and then we’ll make decisions when we have to make them,” Zausner says.
Watch the full interview above to see how the NYC sports landmark has become another symbol of transformation during the pandemic.
This interview is part of a special series produced in collaboration with Katie Couric. Read more from TIME Reports with Katie Couric, and sign up for her weekday morning newsletter Wake-Up Call with Katie Couric.
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