The city already has the largest soft-court municipal tennis facility in the country. Now it plans to add 22 more courts to the existing 30, James Worsley, director of Parks and Recreation said Tuesday.
The Cooper Creek Tennis Center, already something of a public-private hybrid, would further that distinction under a $5.37 million makeover, with its partners in the venture, the Columbus Regional Tennis Association and Columbus State University. The upgrade would add 12 hard courts and 10 more soft courts the existing 30, in addition to a new clubhouse.
CSU would be involved in the financing in exchange for use of the 10 hard courts for practice and matches for its tennis teams, along with locker room and office space in the new clubhouse, according to head men’s coach Evan Isaacs.
“It’s an exciting venture,” Isaacs said. “It would give us one of the best, if not the best Division II tennis facility in the country, and I also believe it will rival many Division I facilities as well.”
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In addition to helping him recruit top players, the facility would allow CSU to host conference tournaments and possibly fall regional tournaments.
“It could bring a lot of business to hotels and restaurants,” he said.
CSU would have the hard courts reserved for scheduled practice sessions and matches, but they would be available for public use at all other times, said Judy Pearce, executive director of CORTA.
Most of the expansion at the park will take place on a large L-shaped lot that CORTA owns adjacent to the park and on a strip of city-owned land next to it. Once the improvements were made, CORTA would retain ownership of the new clubhouse, but would deed the rest over to the city.
The city will continue to manage the facility out of the existing clubhouse. The new clubhouse would be used for CSU locker rooms and offices and for CORTA’s offices, Pearce said.
“This will allow us to host more tournaments, and actually host some tournaments while we are still having league and public play at the same time,” Pearce said. “This will give us an opportunity to do a lot more at the same time.”
The city’s portion of the cost will be $1.5 million, which will come from the 2008 Local Option Sales Tax, according to Worsley. The balance would be from private sources and funds raised by CSU and CORTA. Ground could be broken on the project in 2014, he said.
Cooper Creek Park is a 187-acre park that includes a lake for fishing, trails for walking, running and biking, a playground, grills and picnic pavilions. It is off Milgen Road where it intersects with the Warm Springs Connector.