Union Station’s Great Hall is increasingly popular as a venue for public events. This week, it’s a squash court.
That’s right — squash, as in the sport played on a court with rackets and a ball. That’s different from the kind of squash played by Metra and Amtrak passengers who were herded into the Great Hall Thursday to wait for delayed trains caused by a signal system failure. Amtrak acknowledged Friday that an employee caused the problem while upgrading a server.
A four-walled glass court surrounded by bleachers (photo above) was constructed at the north end of the Great Hall to accommodate the Professional Squash Association’s world championships tournament, held this week through Saturday.
The $1 million tournament has attracted more than 100 top players from more than 25 countries. Reigning champions Mohamed ElShorbagy and Raneem El Welily, both Egyptians, are the top seeds. The top American in the tournament is Amanda Sobhy.
A bit unusual for a train station to hold a sporting event? Not necessarily, says Marc Magliari, a spokesman for Amtrak, which owns Union Station. The Professional Squash Association, based in Britain, has an affinity for iconic venues and has held tournaments in Vanderbilt Hall at New York City’s Grand Central Station since 2017.
Amtrak is happy to earn revenue by renting out parts of the facility to help pay the $22 million cost of renovating the famous Great Hall and its soaring…