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City to decide on bubble

Council expected to choose whether to fund Tennis Center

Christine Metz

The City Council is expected to make a final decision tonight on funding a tennis bubble replacement project.

The council tabled the decision at an Oct. 12 meeting, where the Tennis Facility Replacement Community asked for the city to spend $2.15 million on a frame and fabric structure. The council decided it wanted more details on what the Tennis Center’s annual budget would be with an improved facility.

The group also wanted more information on what work the committee has done to form partnerships with other groups, such as Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. and the lodging community, to generate more revenue for the facility.

The Tennis Center’s pro forma budget, which was given to the council before tonight’s meeting, indicates the facility is operating at an annual net loss of $142,500. The city’s subsidy is $131,500.

If the replacement project provides four courts, the annual net loss would be $83,400, and the city’s subsidy would be $88,200. If the council agrees to go with the $2.15 million proposal and six new courts, the annual net loss would be $105,800 and the city’s subsidy would be $101,400.

Tennis Facility Replacement Committee members have said an upgraded facility would draw more use, and in turn more revenue, during the summer months and would decrease the cost of utilities for heating the facility and for the air generated to keep the bubble up.

On Oct. 12, the Tennis Facility Replacement Committee presented the council with four options for replacing the tennis bubble.

The low end was a $1.2 million proposal to resurface the four indoor clay courts. The most expensive option recommended by the replacement committee was $2.1 million and proposed two courts be added and the existing clay courts be resurfaced.

The $2.1 million cost was more than the council had anticipated. Although the council has yet to approve funding the replacement project, it has earmarked $1.98 million to go toward the tennis facility in its 2005 budget.

Members of the tennis community have said they would cover close to $360,000 of the cost through private donations.

The $2.1 million option would replace the cloth tennis bubble, which is kept up by air, with a framed structure that has a fabric outer layer. The fabric sides would roll up in the summer to let in cool air. The proposal also includes new heating, lighting and insulation and building wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, a viewing area, offices, a meeting room and additional storage.

— To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com


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