A Frugal Fan’s Notes

The crowd at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.Photo: Getty Images

It’s no secret that the cheapest way to see matches is to buy grounds-admission tickets, steer clear of Arthur Ashe stadium, and check out the side courts—including solid second-tier matches in the Louis Armstrong and Grandstand stadiums. And though grounds admission is only offered through Labor Day, fans will be able to snag $5 passes on the last day to to watch the men’s singles final from the South Plaza on the giant TV outside of Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Start with a snack by picking up freebies at the Nabisco or Oikos organic Greek yogurt stands. Food-court fare can get pricey ($18.75 for Fulton Seafood’s shrimp- and lobster-salad roll!), but, relatively speaking, the $7.50 chicken tikka kati roll from the New Delhi Spice stand is modestly priced. (If only it tasted less like a glorified McDonald’s fajita.) To get the most bang for your buck, notable portions can be found at Fresca Mexicano, where the $10 Ultimate nachos come with a heap of tortilla chips, black beans, sliced jalapeños, nacho cheese, sour cream, salsa, and chicken or beef.

If you’re hunting for an inexpensive bag in which to stow your freebies and extra clothing, bypass the Lacoste Retro Sport duffels ($85 to $105) for a roomy ecotote ($5) available at all U.S. Open stands, printed with an image of the stadium from the Opening Night fireworks ceremony.

While Lacoste’s classic New York Tennis 2009 tees are $35, and the U.S. Open’s range from $26 to $45, Nike’s are a relative bargain at $22. Nike’s tout more varied styles, too.

If you’re willing to spend money to save money, present $150 worth of AmEx receipts from the tennis center and receive a $50 gift card for Ralph Lauren. (Some restrictions may apply.) Or, at the New York Times booth, subscribe to the paper at a discounted rate and receive a $25 U.S. Open gift card.

If you forget your camera, you can borrow an Olympus Stylus Tough camera free of charge at the Olympus tent on the South Plaza. When you’re done snapping photos, return the camera and they’ll transfer your shots onto a complimentary CD. Enter your favorite for a chance to win a camera to take home.

A Frugal Fan’s Notes