Visitors are already starting to descend on Queens to attend the U.S. Open tennis tournament, which holds court in Flushing Meadows Corona Park next week.
Last year, a record of nearly 830,000 spectators passed through the United States Tennis Association’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
But according to a new audit by city Comptroller Scott Stringer, the USTA has not been playing fair with the city.
The comptroller’s probe found that from 2014 to 2017, the USTA failed to report $31 million in revenue, which would mean it owes more than $311,000 in additional rent to the city. In 2016 and 2017, USTA paid $6.6 million each year in rent to the city.
The audit finds USTA underreported benefits received from other companies and fees and took inappropriate deductions.
The USTA may also owe an additional $82,000 because of discrepancies in financial reports, Stringer’s office found.
The comptroller’s review also determined the lease’s restrictions on access to records hinders closer city oversight of the USTA’s finances.
“Any corporate entity leasing land from the city must pay its fair share of rent – no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The Tennis Center collects more than $300 million annually, and yet, it shortchanges city taxpayers,” Stringer said in a statement. “This arrangement should be a win-win, not just ‘advantage’ USTA.”
Some Queens residents said that the park doesn’t feel like theirs during the U S. Open, calling the Grand Slam tournament a complete takeover of the 1,255-acre park.
David Pastor, 29, a member of grassroots group Queens Neighborhoods United, said that the park is usually a safe haven for immigrant families and contended that this community character gets “overridden” around tournament time.
“I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never even thought to go. It’s super expensive,” Pastor said. “You have to question who it’s for.”