Grand (Central) Slam for MTA

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Friday, March 20, 2009
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Trump has held court in Grand Central for 30 years.

Trump holds court above Grand Central. (AIA Archiblog)

Donald Trump’s Grand Central Tennis Club may see its last baller this spring. According to the Daily News, the tony courts, long frequented by politicians, celebrities, and tennis pros, will be closed to make way for a new rest area for Metro-North conductors and train engineers. Trump has leased the space from Metro-North for 30 years, paying $4 a square foot, about 4% of the average Grand Central going rate.

Grand Slam (Daily News)

Match Point (Daily News)

The courts, above Vanderbilt Hall on the third floor of the terminal, are in a once-unoccupied attic area that allegedly served as a ballroom until it was converted to CBS broadcast facilities in the late 1930s. (The first episodes of “What’s My Line?” and Edward R. Murrow’s “See It Now” were broadcast there.) In 1965, Hungarian immigrant Geza A. Gazdag founded Vanderbilt Athletic Club in the space, building two courts on the former soundstage and converting the broadcast studio to a lounge. A year later, he put in a 65-foot indoor ski slope next to the courts.

After it changed owners in 1970, the club underwent a $100,000 Dorothy Draper redecoration. Though some reports indicate the commuter railroad could open a new tennis club that would earn several times what Trump has paid, it remains to be seen if the new employee lounge, to be equipped with bunk beds, lockers and showers, will retain any of Draper’s modern baroque stylings.

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