Thecomplex occupies an area of about 18 hectares and houses the Arthur AsheStadium, the largest in the world that can seat 23,770 fans; the LouisArmstrong Stadium (14,000 seats); and the Grandstand (8,130 seats). You’llknow you’re nearing your destination because the venue is visible as the trainnears the Mets-Willets Point Station, the train stop where you get off. You follow the crowd thru a board walk whereyou can see below a train yard. Acrossthe station is the Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets baseballteam. The trainsnakes from underground in Manhattan, speeding under the East River and then toQueens where it sees daylight running on elevated tracks. Along the way, you’ll see buildingsconstructed in the early 1900s, a stark contrast from the modern high-riseapartments of the now distant Manhattan. I supposeyou’ve seen the line umpires, the ball boys and girls outfitted with RalphLauren apparels from head to foot. Theyhave a big shop selling them – from caps, to towels to socks to umbrellas. They’re nice but the prices are not friendly. It was agood idea to bring some food and water. Of course, there are lots of food but prices are atrocious. A 12 ounce Coke sells for $6.50, a can ofHeineken beer goes for $12. A Grey Goose vodka mix sets you back $20. If booze is too early for you, there’s aLavazza shop brewing one of the best Italian coffees. I’m a coffee drinker but could not find thesweetness in the bitter with the $7.50 tag. AFTERhaving a close encounter with Roger Federer a few days before, me, my wifeDenise and mom-in-law decided to go to the USTA Billie Jean King NationalTennis Center, taking advantage of the free admission because it was Fan Week,and also with the hope of getting some more autographs from the tennis stars. Gettinginside one of the subway stations in midtown Manhattan to catch the 7 train toFlushing Meadows, you have to go thru the rush of humanity getting connectionsto other stations, not to mention some groups of performers or occasionalmusicians on some corners hoping that you’ll be generous with your dollar. Averageticket prices at the Arthur Ashe Stadium with a new retractable roof whenhostilities began was $220, other venues averaged $135. The most expensive seats can be had at$3,700. There’s a $35 entrance fee and that admits you to the open courts on afirst come, first served basis. Almost10,000 seats were added all across the venue and we could only imagine all therevenue generated in three weeks, including the Fan Week. MercedesBenz is a major US Open partner and their high-end models were displayed insidetheir tent. People can sit inside thecars, smell and feel what a luxury car is like. I was attracted most to the matte black 2019 G500 Wagon and was amusedwith the Chinese-looking kid happily playing with the switches on the digitaldashboard. His father sternly told himto stop but the kid replied something like, “I want this broken so you can buythe car.” I don’t know if his dad bought it.(To be continued/PN) Becausewe went there during fan week, a Friday, the train was a bit full but notpacked as the tournament is yet to start officially in two days. Security was tight and prior to entering thevenue, backpacks and large bags are to be deposited at a designated locker, fora $5 fee. Inside, we were assisted by a staff member, a Cebuano from Lahug,Cebu City. He probably heard us speaking Bisaya that he approached us. Scatteredaround the complex are 30 other tennis courts, all with cushioned acrylicsurfaces and re-surfaced a month before the tournament starts. It’s amassive site and scattered around the area are food stalls, coffee stands,bars, branded shops and tents. Yes,indeed, that place is a burial ground for your hard-earned money with all theeye candies around. You need to have thestrong resolve of the most pious monk not to give in to the temptations,especially the caps and shirts that don’t go down below $25. Newly migrated to the US, I could not bringmyself to spend on US Open merchandise as there’s always the tendency to convertdollars to our currency.