Jim Webster: Evaluate pickleball and fieldhouse building ideas separately
Sometimes, bad ideas lead to a discussion that generates better ideas. Sometimes, bad ideas just remain bad ideas.
In the case of the proposals for new indoor pickleball and fieldhouse facilities at, or near, the existing Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs, the jury is out. While some public meetings have been held to learn about the options, no financial information has been disclosed on costs, operations or maintenance of all structures.
There are five alternatives: (1) maintain indoor pickleball playing within the existing Tennis Center; (2) add onto the Tennis Center building; (3) build a separate pickleball facility near the Tennis Center; (4) build a two-story pickleball and fieldhouse facility near the Tennis Center; or (5) build two separate buildings with a fieldhouse near the soccer fields and a pickleball facility near the Tennis Center.
Pickleball got started at the Tennis Center as part of a national trend in a sport that was appealing to an older demographic. Most importantly, pickleball was pursued at the Steamboat Tennis Center because it helped utilize an underused facility.
Initially, it augmented revenue during times that the Tennis Center was not busy, but now it comprises 20% to 25% of Tennis Center revenue making the center a much more economically viable, public/private operation. To build a separate building dedicated to pickleball will adversely impact the Tennis Center revenue picture, i.e. the pickleball revenue generated at the Tennis Center would go to the new pickleball building. Both buildings will have to support themselves with perhaps only a modest crossover of users.
Adding a fieldhouse to the alternatives makes for an even more complex financial determination. The fact that a fieldhouse may attract many users is a plus. However, raising money from a completely different user base than tennis or pickleball complicates how the funds will be allocated in the event there is a shortfall and/or if one activity needs to subsidize the other.
Really, if there are different buildings and users, why should these projects be pursued as a joint enterprise?
As they say, you can have anything you want, just not everything you want. Is a new pickleball building warranted given the joint utilization of the current Tennis Center? What will be the financial costs and implications for all stakeholders of a new pickleball building? If there is a demand for a fieldhouse, this idea should be judged and evaluated on its own merits.
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