Tennis center up, but not yet running

Bubble's light fixtures need to be fixed

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— Although the bubble over the courts at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs has been reinflated, the familiar sound of taut racket strings hitting fuzzy tennis balls is still at least a few days away from being heard.

The bubble, which collapsed during the night of Sept. 7 after a power outage crippled Central Park Plaza and the surrounding area, was back up by Sept. 9. No one was in the tennis center when it collapsed.

"The idea that something like this could happen and that the crew could have it back up and running so quickly is just incredible," said City Manager Paul Hughes. Hughes, a recreational tennis player, commended parks supervisor Mike McCannum for his role in getting the bubble back up.

The city had to purchase new motors for the fans that keep the air-supported bubble inflated, but that cost will be paid by a $5,000 insurance deductible.

However, a number of light fixtures that make it possible for people to play at night were damaged when the bubble collapsed.

"When the weight of the bubble came down, it broke them," Jim Swiggart, the tennis center's concessionaire, said of the lights.

The light fixtures are now lying in the middle of the courts, waiting to be replaced. The four indoor courts will be closed until replacements are found. The city may replace the lights with used ones from another court. However, if city officials don't buy the used lights, they will have to purchase new ones. Depending on which lights they get, some of the repairs may come out of city funds.

"We're hoping to have these things done in the next four to seven days so that the facility is open," said Chris Wilson, the director of the Parks and Recreation Department. "We may be able to do some remedial work and get it to open somewhat sooner."

The courts themselves also were damaged when the bubble collapsed. Condensation that collects on the skin of the bubble caused water damage on the clay courts.

In addition, the clay courts left a grainy residue on the underside of the bubble surface that was visible once it was reinflated. The vast underside of the translucent white roof material is still being cleaned.

The center has had to delay a number of events since the power outage, including two general leagues that meet at night. Some high school tennis team and Junior Academy practices also had to be postponed. Overall, however, the delay has not been especially troublesome to the center or its patrons.That's because recent warm weather has allowed players to take it outside.

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