Blue Tennis courts US Open
Dear Sports Fan,
Why are U.S. Open tennis courts blue? What happened to the normal green and red variety that we all played on growing up?
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U.S. Open tennis courts have been painted blue since 2005 primarily because the organizers of the tournament thought they could make more money with blue courts than the traditional green and red variety. The blue court is good for its organizers for reasons of branding and visibility. Since 2005, many other tennis tournaments have copied the U.S. Open and made their own court color changes.
The most understandable reason why the U.S. Open and other tournaments switched from green and red painted asphalt to blue is that it makes the tennis ball easier to see for players and spectators. The tennis ball itself is a shocking neon green-yellow. This is the kind of green-yellow normally found in road signs or reflective vests because it’s very easy to see. Still, tracking a green ball going a hundred miles an hour or more is likely to be easier if done against a background that provides a good contrast. A duller green isn’t going to offer must color contrast. Red is opposite green in a color wheel but the green of the tennis ball is a lot closer to yellow than it is green green.
Therefore, a blue or purple is going to create the best contrast to spot a moving tennis ball. This contrast is particularly important for television viewers. Not only are television viewers the largest group of people to watch the game, they’re also the one that injects the most money into the sport. No wonder their viewing experience was at the core of the decision in 2005 to shift to blue courts.
The other key reason to paint the U.S. Open courts blue is branding. In 2005, when the United States Tennis Association made the decision to move to a blue court, they did so, not just for the U.S. Open, but for all the major tennis tournaments played in the U.S. and organized by their group. As USTA executive Arlen Kantarian was quoted as saying in this espn.com article:
In addition, it provides an instant visual link between the US Open Series tournaments and the U.S. Open, helping to create a unified ‘regular season’ for tennis leading up to the U.S. Open.
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