Fri, 05/19/2023 - 10:40pm

Question of the Week

What are your thoughts on the Westminster Kennel Club’s dog show at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center?


Mary Merlo

Youngsville, North Carolina

I have attended Westminster every year since 1978! This is the closest venue to share a similar feeling tone like the Garden. It had to be a Herculean effort, in both time and money, but for those of us who get to attend, it was fabulous! BRAVO!


Barry Irwin

Lexington, Kentucky

The 2023 Westminster Kennel Club show was my first as an exhibitor.

The venue was spectacular. It was spacious. Seating was fantastic. The showing area was large enough to satisfy all involved.

Participants rose to the occasion by looking sharper and more well dressed than usual, even for an important show.

I think it is important for the show to be able to utilize a championship facility, and the tennis center provided that.

Also, I would like to commend The New York Times for its fantastic coverage.


Desi Murphy

Monroe, New York

It was a great show. It actually had a garden atmosphere being outside during the day. The committee did a great job pulling it together.


Allison Alexander

Sidney, British Columbia, Canada

Westminster —  it seemed to me to be a huge success. The venue was spacious, lots of power, lots of easy access to exercise dogs, great rings and access to watch the judging. And it looked AMAZING! I would like to see the exhibitor tickets to include group judging for both nights so the stands were full ... but all in all, it was fabulous.  


Susan Malampy

Chester Springs, Pennsylvania 

Being a newer exhibitor, I feel my worry and expectations were lower. Never attending shows at the Piers or Garden, I didn’t know what it was like “back in the day.” I know people still miss that venue. I attended and exhibited (last minute) in 2022 at Lyndhurst. It was exciting to step into a breed ring given that I had not even showed for a year. This year, owning and exclusively showing my first show dog, the experience, reflection and impression are different. 

I considered that this may be the only time I will have the opportunity to have this experience with my very special first show dog. 

I wanted to enjoy the moment, even if the results I was hoping for were not to be in the ring. As for the setup … The covered rings worked well. Unloading, parking and getting to rings was easier than I expected. Fun to have vendors, especially for people only showing a single dog like myself.

As I stated earlier there was easy once arriving to USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Driving to NYC’s LaGuardia Airport area was more of the challenge. 

What I take away from Westminster 2023 is … MAKE THE BEST OF IT. Enjoy the moments and truly appreciate the opportunity to show a dog in this venue. IT IS WESTMINSTER, you were there! Congratulations to all who had the opportunity to step into the ring at Westminster! 


Stephan Charles 

Santa Barbara, California

A nice show.

Glad to see dock diving as part of the program. Would like to see other competition other than just conformation added to the program. And also more inclusive of non-registered, mixed-breed entries. 

Arthur Ashe tennis stadium seems to be a good venue, but I found the air traffic from the nearby airport to be distracting and annoying at times. Would prefer to go back to Lindenhurst in Tarrytown. 

I much prefer springtime for the show to the traditional February winter in New York.

Very nice show overall.


Margaret Noble

Pennington, New Jersey

I truly enjoyed WKC at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center this year. I felt things were well thought out, planned and executed. Site control was amazingly patient and helpful to all, as we navigated this totally new adventure together. The Center had lovely facilities and showing there, whether in the outdoor or indoor rings, felt "special," akin to the feeling at MSG, which is exactly what WKC should feel like. This felt like much more than another outdoor show … this felt like WKC.


M'Kayla Stahr

Boonville, Indiana

I enjoyed the Westminster site! I felt everything went smoothly. Plenty of space, lots of grooming space with electric, and lots of seating for spectators and exhibitors. 


Anita Pugh

Reading, Pennsylvania

In all honesty, when the USTA Billie Jean King tennis venue was first announced, I found the thought of trying to get to Queens on a weekday somewhat daunting. We made the decision to come in on Sunday to set up crates in the grooming tents, but even the drive through downtown Manhattan on Sunday was a lot. We also wondered if there really was going to be enough space available for all the exhibitors in the grooming tents.

In full transparency, I had serious doubts about this venue. We often fear the unknown.
What I would like to say is that I was pleasantly surprised at how well things were set up, and it really turned out to be a functional and pretty venue. Unloading and setup were easy. Site control did a good job. I found people to be very helpful and friendly. There seemed to be a lighthearted atmosphere. It was obvious that a lot of thought and effort went into trying to make this venue successful. The grounds were lovely, and we even managed to step over to Corona Park to see the Unisphere and get ice cream. The beautiful weather was the icing on top of the cake. I have to admit, the more time I spent there, the more it grew on me.
Arthur Ashe stadium was awesome. I know it wasn't Madison Square Garden, but it looked like it was pretty amazing to be on that green carpet. I know there have been a lot of comments about the lack of people in the stands during the groups, and I agree it was not to the level of pre-pandemic Madison Square Garden crowds. I think the Westminster Kennel Club took a gamble that this venue would draw the crowds, but it seems that people were not as willing to come out to Queens for whatever reason. It's a shame, because I think they missed a great show. Personally, I don't feel it helps to rub salt in the wounds by overstating that the crowd size was down. Perhaps, instead of fault judging, we should talk about the virtues of the show. I feel it was a great effort!
If this venue is used again, perhaps there are some other ways to get the public there, which might include a targeted marketing campaign as well reasonable parking and ticket fees. The courtyard area was so large that it could easily support interactive booths. The Great American Dog Show this year had one of the local school districts hold a "Dogs Around the World" art competition and the students’ artwork was on display. There was a coloring corner for the kids as well as an opportunity for them to learn to show a stuffed-animal dog, complete with receiving a ribbon at the end. What better way to get the public involved in our sport? It might even inspire a few new junior handlers and/or new AKC dog owners.
Kudos to all the members of the Westminster Kennel Club, who did a great job of putting on one of the most prestigious dog shows in the world! I am glad I got to experience it.


Lorrie Moreira

Canterbury, Connecticut

I thought the show itself was fine. I did have issues with the exhibitor parking, having to unload, and dealing with shuttle bus. If you were alone, it was very hard to deal with. Lyndhurst was much easier on the exhibitors, especially coming from the all-breed shows. You need exhibitor parking areas near the rings.


Iva Kimmelman 

Stow, Massachusetts 

I wasn't in attendance in person, yet it felt completely real to me. I watched many breeds both days and of course, groups and Best in Show.

Everything was so well done. 

Westminster Kennel Club has always stood for the very best of the dog show world. They never disappoint me. 

Years ago, I made a phone call to Tom Bradley (I think that is who I talked to) asking if he could PLEASE do something about the ring size for Whippets, because we were always one of the largest entries. He couldn't have been nicer. He said he would look into that. 

And from that point on, Whippets were in the larger ring shared with the larger sighthound at MSG. If fact, in every venue moving forward, Whippets had a nice size ring, and remain one of the largest entries. 

As wonderfully difficult as Madison Square Garden was, we all went, because it couldn't be missed. Then the Piers, Lyndhurst and this year a new venue.

No one can say this club doesn't make champagne out of water, no matter the challenges. It's very impressive. 

My one regret was that Geir couldn't fulfill his assignment for Best in Show. I was so fond of this kind gentleman and enjoyed discussing our mutual breed. 

This takes nothing from Beth, who did a wonderful job in her own right.


Felice Lang

Stamford, Connecticut

First I must say having Westminster in May or June is wonderful. I have had a dog shown at the Garden and I showed at the Piers. The tennis center was an interesting venue. Parking for exhibitors was terrible. Unloading find a small grooming space and drive over to park and taking a shuttle back not so much fun. After showing, doing it in reverse not so much fun. If there was a choice between the tennis center or Lyndhurst, I would pick Lyndhurst. 


Tuni Conti

Oxford, Connecticut

As always, Westminster came through with flying colors!

From site control to the venue, they outdid themselves!

Hats off to great team who put together the fabulous show! Well done and thank you! 


Barbara Miller

Brookville, New York

Fortunately, I had an entry because it was impossible to retrieve my tickets from Ticketmaster after four attempts. I took a car service to the Tennis Center, arriving at the entrance to Arthur Ashe stadium. The Tennis Center staff were cordial, holding doors open for me, directing me where I had to go, and told me to have a good time. Complete opposite of the staff at Madison Square Garden. The arena was draped in purple and gold, simulating Westminster at the Garden. The new Westminster president, Donald Sturz, was often seen touring the stadium, chatting with the exhibitors. I want to wish him, a fellow Long Islander, the best of everything in his new position at the helm.

The rings were large, more than enough open floor space for spectators and exhibitors to move around and stadium seating available. No, it didn’t have the feel of the old Garden, and how could it? The Garden was crowded, whether at ring side or what many of us referred to as backstage with crate after crate, person after person, and vendors piled high against one another — a total fire trap. Still, we all loved it.  The Tennis Center venue was roomy, or at least it was at Arthur Ashe. 

I didn’t stay for nighttime groups as I opt for home and stelevision. Unfortunately, both evenings the stands weren’t filled, and I blame Ticketmaster for that and the horror of getting tickets. The TV coverage was perfect, with cameras getting unbelievable close-ups of handler and canine. 

The formality of the judges’ garments as usual was topnotch; all looked the part of serious judging as they took center stage. I must comment on Cindy Vogels’ dress — loved it. And of course Beth Sweigart looked wonderful in her tuxedo. Personally, I count Beth as one of our foremost judges. Her selection of the PVGV from the Hound Ground says it all. Great show, and hope the powers-that-be find a site for next year.


Karen Mull

Lititz, Pennsylvania

At first, like a lot of people I talked to, I was worried about the location and not very excited about going. After being there for a while, I was pretty happy with the location. I do have a few suggestions: 1. More grooming space. 2. Larger loading and unloading area. 3. No loud speakers in the grooming area. 4. I wish there were no loud shots/firecrackers/backfires in the morning that scared the dogs. 5. Either let exhibitioners order Westminster memorabilia prior to the show or have a second store just for exhibitors. 6. Mark food areas better and have something closer to the grooming tents. Other than that, the location was clean, dogs seemed to like running on the ring flooring, and it looked very nice.  


Barbara Cohl

Laurel, Maryland

Lovely venue, but not as user friendly as last year. Last year I was able to purchase tickets for parking on a day other than when my dog was showing. This year that was not available. The parking situation was very inconvenient. The distance from the venue and the length of time between buses was far too long! Otherwise, all went well.


Marlene Groves

Kiowa, Colorado

I did not attend 2023 WKC, but I watch it streaming and will offer this input. First, from all the videos and photos, things looked lovely. Next, for continuity and easy of watching, I wish it was either all on FS1 or FS2; by not being so, it meant you had to sign up and purchase both. I was able to watch things Monday on FS1, but they did not have it on Tuesday; that was FS2. Lastly, my biggest item is PLEASE (no excuses), video and stream the Junior Finals!

Congrats to all the winners, with a huge shout-out to all the stellar juniors who qualified and attended!


Barbara J. Morris

Gilbert, Pennsylvania

The walkway for the group winners was just too long. They should shorten it up. Otherwise, the show was fine.


Peter Kubacz

Jackson, New Jersey

Being in a city location, we all know that the travel, traffic and large-vehicle parking will always be a big variable.  That aside, the logistics involved to make this venue workable for the handlers and exhibitors were incredible. Noting felt rushed or chaotic, although I’m sure for some it was, but the overall vibe seemed calm and maintained. I don’t think I heard much complaining underneath the grooming tent, where there seemed to be plenty of working space for everyone, and access to rings and dog walking was very  convenient.  The rings were large and there was plenty of room for owners and spectators to watch, and ample space ring side for the handers and their dogs. We even lucked out on weather; however, with the craft that went into laying out this venue out I don’t think rain would be a factor. Certainly not when compared to the wet, uneven grounds of Lyndhurst or the snow-covered streets of the city.  

I think the biggest complaint I heard and would agree on was with rings 1 through 6. If we return to this venue next year, which I would have no objection to, please make the ring platforms thicker and more secure. Some rings sounded and felt like we were running in a wrestling ring, with the amount of give and bounce certain corners had. Everything else far exceeded my expectations and made Westminster feel like an event truly worth attending again!


Lisa M. Sons

Homer Glen, Illinois

I really enjoyed the venue.  There was ample room for exhibitors to groom and move around.  

I enjoyed walking outside to the different rings and vendors.  It felt like a lovely Spring festival.  


Nicki Kuhn

Santa Rosa, California

It was the best … really enjoyed seeing so many breed classes in the morning. Thought the commentary from Kim Meredith was great. It made the group judging more interesting to watch. Well done.


Jo Forsythe

Gig Harbor, Washington 

Nice new venue overview, with aerial scans to visualize being there. 

Skip the soliloquies by hosts: “We’re so happy …” I don’t care about your joy. I want to see dogs. Instead, show class judging, unloading, setups, grooming (without feeling compelled to joke about it). Flashbacks were OK, but hosts talked too much. Talk to handlers, owners, folks in the stands instead. 


Rebecca Ingersoll 

Benson, Arizona

Loved the venue this year for Westminster! Hope they continue to have it here and I will be back! 


Laura Libner

Grand Rapids, Michigan

I really am nostalgic and miss Westminster being held at the Garden. It will always be there, in my heart.



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