Thursday, November 16, 2000
Steamboat Springs The good news is that tennis in Steamboat Springs is growing at a breathtaking pace.
The bad news for concessionaire Jim Swiggart is that the sport's popularity has greatly impacted the availability of courts at the facility he runs especially for the young future stars of the game.
"My junior programs are busting at the seams right now," Swiggart said.
The high interest and demand for outdoor courts in the summer is why the Tennis Center and the city of Steamboat Springs are teaming up for the first major expansion at the facility since its opening in 1991. If all the funds can be raised, construction might begin on the hard courts as early as spring.
The "Courts for Kids" program has also set a deadline of this spring for raising the additional money needed to build the courts.
The city has offered to pay $96,000 of the estimated $140,000 to $190,000 improvement cost in its current Capital Improvement Projects list . However, the tennis community as a whole will need to raise an additional $45,000 to $5000 to complete the project.
Estimates on the final cost of the project vary greatly right now because it hasn't been decided what material will be used to construct the courts. Asphalt is cheaper, but concrete is also an option.
Swiggart and Beccy Brane have rallied the tennis community's support with the Courts for Kids program. The idea is that children will benefit, along with the rest of the tennis community, from the construction of the new courts.
"I'm pretty confident that we will be able to raise the money needed to build the courts from the tennis community," Courts for Kids Chairwoman Beccy Brane said.
The campaign began in October 1991 and has raised in the neighborhood of $30,000 to date. The organizers are hoping to come up with the rest of the money by the end of the winter.
"We are looking at trying to get some grants," Brane said. "We have also held some fund-raising tournaments and received a lot of money from the tennis community."
One particular tournament, the Riggio's Fine Italian Food Classic, was popular and raised several thousand dollars toward the goal. Brane said she is already planning another team tennis tournament later this winter to raise more money.
Parks Supervisor Mike McCannon said there is $96,000 dedicated to building new courts at the Tennis Center, and he is optimistic the organizers of Courts for Kids will raise the money necessary to start the construction this spring.
He said the option of adding more courts to the area has always been in the master plan.
Since demand has increased so much in the past several years, the city has decided to invest in the project now.
The Tennis Center currently has four indoor courts and six outdoor courts at its location near the Steamboat Ski Area's Meadows parking lot. All of the courts are clay surface.
The new courts would be hard surfaced (made out of concrete or asphalt). McCannon said the city would like to see construction on the courts begin sometime in the late spring, but he said all of the money for the project will need to be in place before it starts.
If construction starts at that time, he said it would be completed by mid- to late-August.
Swiggart thinks the courts are needed to meet the demands and expectations of the tennis community. He added that in the summer, the courts averaged a 68 to 75 percent occupancy. During tournaments, he often has to "borrow" court time from other private courts in the area. Swiggart also thinks the new courts could really benefit the young players on the high school tennis teams who currently don't get the chance to play on hard courts during practice.
To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209
or e-mail him at email@example.com