Steamboat pickleball players to seek $700K in lodging tax funds for tennis center expansion
The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs and the city’s passionate pickleball players will join what is expected to be a crowded and fierce competition to win hundreds of thousands of dollars of the city’s lodging tax money.
The groups will seek $699,000 of the available lodging tax funds to pay for an expansion of the tennis bubble that would accommodate five indoor pickleball courts.
“I do know it’s competitive, but we’re going to shoot for it,” Tennis Center co-concessionaire Loretta Conway said Tuesday.
The proposal will be discussed in detail Wednesday evening at a Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.
Conway projected the expansion of the tennis bubble could bring an additional 3,000 customers to the tennis center annually.
Asked what she thinks will make the proposal stand out against others that are submitted, Conway said tennis and pickleball players have a track record of fundraising and pitching in to help maintain their facilities.
She noted Steamboat Springs Pickleball raised $55,000 in three months to fund eight outdoor courts in 2015.
The city estimates it will have more than $1 million in excess lodging tax dollars in the bank at the end of this year that could be spent on a tourist-oriented amenity in Steamboat.
It will ultimately be up to the Steamboat Springs City Council to decide which project should get the funding.
Or the council could decide to keep saving up the money for something bigger in the future.
No group has yet to submit the official application for the tax revenue ahead of an Aug. 15 filing deadline.
But 16 different groups, including the Tennis Center, have pulled applications.
Other groups known to be working on applications include the Old Town Hot Springs, which is raising money for an expansion of the facility, and advocates of a second sheet of ice at the Howelsen Ice Arena.
The last time the city invited groups to submit proposals for the lodging tax, almost 40 suitors emerged.
Proposals ranged from expanding the Yampa River Core Trail to adding more public restrooms at city parks.
Pickleball players and proponents of the second sheet of ice both would have to overcome an apparent lack of community support for the expansion of their facilities.
Residents were asked in community surveys in 2015 and 2017 to grade the importance of many of the city’s amenities.
In a list of 28 facilities and amenities, the Tennis Center and its pickleball courts ranked second to last in terms of their perceived importance.
Only a third of survey respondents rated the tennis and pickleball courts as essential or very important.
By comparison, the Yampa River Core Trail came in on top of the survey, with 93 percent of survey respondents rating the path as essential or very important.
Conway said she was surprised by the survey results.
But she pointed to recent fundraising success and visitor numbers as evidence of the facility’s value in the community.
The ice arena also has some negative data points to overcome.
In 2015, only 10 percent of survey respondents indicated they felt adding a second sheet of ice to the facility was essential or very important.
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