Tips for Getting US Open Tickets

I've been a tennis fan for a while and was thrilled to attend the US Open a couple of years ago. Getting tickets to events like this is always a bit frustrating. The cheap tickets are in the nosebleed section and the good seats are too expensive, or just impossible to get in the first place. Here are some tips for getting good US Open tickets:

Buy Your US Open Tickets Early

Individual US Open tickets are available from the box office at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, NY, online through Ticketmaster, or by calling 1-866-OPEN-TIX. Tickets are sold on a best-available basis, so that means the earlier you buy, the better your seats.

US Open tickets go on sale to the public in early June. If you're a USTA member, you can buy tickets through the member pre-sale starting in April.

American Express cardmembers also get an early pre-sale, which start a week before the public on-sale date. If you're serious about getting great seats, it might be worth getting an AmEx card just for this purpose. In the past, AmEx cardholders also received a free ticket with every ticket purchased for select sessions. Sounds like a pretty great deal to me.

Photo by wallyg on Flickr
Photo by wallyg on Flickr

Consider a Grounds Pass Ticket

A grounds pass ticket gives you access to everywhere in the Flushing Meadows tennis complex, except Arthur Ashe Stadium (the main show court). Seats in the secondary show courts (Louis Armstrong Stadium, the Grandstand) are open to grounds pass holders on a first come, first served basis.

Lots of top seeds play on these secondary courts, and all games taking place in Arthur Ashe Stadium are broadcast on a jumbotron screen outside. Furthermore, you can probably catch your favorite top players (even the likes of Nadal and Federer) up close and personal on the practice courts.

Grounds pass tickets are available for the first 8 days of the tournaments (up to women's quarterfinals and men's round of 16), and cost about $50. They can be purchased through Ticketmaster as well. Some grounds pass tickets are available during the tournament, but it's a gamble whether you'll get one or not.

Another perk for grounds pass holder is that you can stay all day -- and all night. The doors close at 6pm, and if you're still inside, you can hang out and soak up the night match atmosphere the US Open is famous for. Even better, you may score a free pass into Arthur Ashe Stadium, if you're lucky and patient: Night matches can sometimes go until midnight, and some of the older ticket holders, may leave before things wrap up. So if the prime seats in Arthur Ashe Stadium start looking a bit too empty for the TV cameras, you may get into this top showcourt for free.

Another sneaky tip: If matches are going late, stake out a spot by one of the exits from the stadium. If you see someone who looks like they're leaving for the night, ask nicely and they may give you their ticket.

For Arthur Ashe Stadium, Consider a US Open Mini-Plan

Mini-Plans are basically ticket packages for multiple US Open sessions. Seats for these passes are in the upper promenade section of Arthur Ashe Stadium, rows M-Z.

There are different mini-plans available, starting at about $150, depending on the number of sessions included.

Some benefits to buying a mini-plan:

  • They're available before all the tickets go on sale to the public.
  • They save you a few bucks over the buying the sessions separately, especially when you figure in Ticketmaster fees.
  • If you buy early, the seats are slightly better (they're in the same section, but a few rows closer to the action) than what you'll find searching the general ticket inventory.
  • You're guaranteed a seat in Arthur Ashe Stadium, where all the big names play.
  • A ticket for Arthur Ashe get you access to the rest of the grounds as well (that means first-come, first-serve seating in Louis Armstrong and the Grandstand during the first 8 days of the tournament, and access to all the outer and practice courts)

Check out eBay and the Ticket Exchange

eBay is quickly becoming the unofficial spot for getting great deals on US Open tickets. If Ticketmaster is sold out on your day(s) of choice or you're looking for last-minute tickets, it's worth checking this popular auction site.

Another option is to check out the official US Open ticket exchange (operated by TicketsNow). Season ticket holders (who have the very best seats in the house) and individual ticket holders can resell their own tickets for as much or as little as they like. If you're lucky, you may find some great deals here.

Buying tickets from re-sellers on the day of the event is a gamble, but it is possible. Look out for sellers on the popular routes to the tennis center, especially Grand Central Station on the way to the 7 train or at the Willets Point station when you leave the train. Technically, re-selling is illegal within 1000 feet of the venue, but there is a short stretch between the train station and the venue where you're still far enough away that it is legal. Based on my experience, I can only say that tickets are usually available, I can't say whether they are a good deal or a total rip-off.

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