Big changes in store for Boulder tennis

Dear tennis community,

As we move into the new year, it’s time for an an update on what’s happening with tennis in Boulder. And a lot has been happening.

Further down in this message we’ll lay out the massive advocacy efforts the tennis/pickleball community undertook the last year to bring about change for Boulder public courts. But first, the big news. All our advocacy efforts have borne fruit in a big way!

Up to twenty additional public courts in the works for Boulder tennis

In its recent presentation to the Parks and Rec Advisory Board, Parks administrators laid out a plan that calls for up to 20 additional outdoor tennis courts over the next seven years, as follows…

  • 2024-2025… East Boulder Rec Center: Court system redesigned and rebuilt to include 8 dedicated tennis courts and 16 dedicated pickleball courts. (Currently 4 dedicated tennis courts, 1 multi-use court, no pickleball courts – so a net gain of 4 dedicated tennis courts)
  • 2027-2028… Valmont South location: Up to 12 dedicated tennis courts to be designed and built at the Valmont location. (Currently no courts of any kind – so a net gain of 12 dedicated tennis courts)
  • 2029-2030… Tom Watson Park: up to 8 dedicated tennis courts and 4 dedicated pickleball courts. (Currently 4 dedicated tennis courts – so a net gain of 4 dedicated tennis courts)
  • Ongoing: In addition to the several million dollars required for the above, $400,000 per year over the next several years will be allotted to maintenance, rebuilding, and resurfacing current courts throughout the city. Included in that will be the serious undertaking of converting many courts to a post-tension concrete underlayment that will increase the time between required resurfacings and realize cost savings.

The most promising forward motion in decades

Of course, there are a number of steps to be carried out before all this comes to pass. But this is the most promising forward motion toward addressing Boulder’s unmet tennis needs this board has seen in decades. It is up to all of us to not only work with and support these efforts by the City of Boulder and Boulder Parks and Rec, but to also keep weighing in on the process and the decisions going forward.

Realistically, it is unlikely that more public outdoor courts will be added by the time RMTC and CU South courts are removed. And it’s true that this means we will only get four new courts over the next four years. So, Boulder tennis players are still in for some short term pain. And while we hope that public indoor courts are part of the picture at some point, more outdoor courts appear to be Boulder Parks and Rec’s immediate concern. 

Also note that in 2023 courts at Tom Watson and North Palo Park received short term resurfacings. Tom Watson in particular is now a viable home league location. And, speaking of regular court maintenance, in 2024, Columbine and Arapahoe Ridge will be the first to undergo post-tension concrete renovations. We will continue to update you with court news as we hear it.

How did this all happen?

First, we would like to highlight the great progress that we’ve made as a tennis community in raising public and local government awareness around tennis in Boulder. While awareness may not be the ultimate goal, it is a necessary first step towards improving tennis availability.

Compared to where we were when we started last year, we have already come a long way. A big thank you to board president Michael Xu; to all our BTA board members past and present; to our pickleball friends Clifford Moss, Robert Constable and Mo Siegel; and to the many individuals in the tennis community over the past year who have been advocating for and raising awareness of tennis.

Below are some highlights of the advocacy efforts we made in 2023, many in partnership with our friends at BOCO Pickleball.

  • We’ve had dozens of individuals give remarks at public comment opportunities throughout the year at both Parks and Rec and City Council meetings.
  • There were also letters and articles around tennis published in the Daily Camera. 
  • This fall, tennis and pickleball representatives reached out and met with nearly all of the city council candidates before the election with the aim to raise awareness. Thanks to Clifford Moss, especially, for being the driving force behind these meetings. 
  • We’ve met with the City of Boulder Budget office to discuss recreation funding possibilities.
  • We’ve also attended monthly meetings with Parks and Rec, of which you can read the meeting notes online here. These meetings mostly center around updates from Parks and Rec on the ongoing court study.
  • You, the community, showed out and submitted around 1400 responses to the City of Boulder Parks and Rec Tennis and Pickleball survey.
  • At the December 2023 Parks and Rec public meeting, the PRAB board spent thirty minutes discussing tennis and pickleball. The update mostly wraps up the engagement window that we all participated in in the fall. You can watch it here starting at 1:53 into the video: https://youtu.be/KvTo6ON5qeM?si=wtGnhNUvPzJHJqUW
  • At the January 2024 Parks and Rec public meeting, the PRAB board was presented with the court system plans for the next several years, as discussed above. You can watch it here starting at 1:21 into the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5lqk3lWq0Q&t=4893s

RMTC / Private tennis news

Finally, on the club side of Boulder tennis, Kendall and Donna Chitambar, currently of Rocky Mountain Tennis Center, have gathered investors to purchase a piece of private land in the plains a bit over a half mile east of the western edge of Gunbarrel, where they hope to situate a new tennis center, to be called Tennis Center of the Rockies (TCR), with the aim of being the spiritual successor of RMTC.

As of this writing, the proposed size and scope of the facility has been pared down in the face of some community concern. Current plans call for “a six-court, outdoor-only facility for the CU women’s team, along with a small viewing structure that would accommodate 50 to 200 spectators; 12 indoor courts under two seasonal, bubbled structures for all-weather play; four youth courts about two-thirds the size of the adult courts; four kids courts about one-quarter the size of adult courts; a small kids clubhouse; and a pool with an attached clubhouse.”

To read a recent article in the Daily Camera about the project, go to…https://www.dailycamera.com/2024/01/20/players-and-neighbors-volley-over-proposed-tennis-facility-in-gunbarrel/

Clearly this is still a developing story, complete with controversy and various statements being volleyed about. And we should also add that the facts around it may still change. However, while the BTA Board of Directors respects the views on both sides of the question, we feel there are a few things that can be stated without disagreement…

  • Boulder public tennis and pickleball, as we have been saying for several years now, are in a crisis of overwhelming competition for a shrinking amount of court real estate. And even with the new courts that Boulder Parks and Rec plan, that competition will still remain.
  • With the closure of RMTC and its fifteen courts, hundreds more active players will be pushed out onto our public courts. (And no, they can’t just join another private club – the waitlist for other Boulder tennis clubs can run to years.)
  • In light of this, the addition of any new tennis courts, public or private, to replace the facilities lost at RMTC, can only help the court situation improve, no matter where you play in the county.
  • In addition, if this new facility can follow in the footsteps of RMTC’s practices: providing youth tennis and wheelchair tennis programs, providing a practice facility and home for the CU women’s tennis team; providing a home for various league teams and local tournaments for youth and adults, then it can’t help but be an overall positive for the Boulder tennis community.
  • Finally, we all know that real estate is crazy in and around Boulder County, and building restrictions in and near the city are a tangle of red tape. Suitable site locations for even a modest tennis center are almost nonexistent. So this project on this site represents a rare opportunity.

To sign an online petition in favor of new tennis facility, go to… https://www.change.org/p/approval-construction-of-new-tennis-facility-in-boulder-colorado

If you remain unconvinced by these arguments, you can find an online petition opposing the new tennis facility here… https://stop79thsttenniscomplex.org/

We promise to keep you informed and updated on any changes in this interesting new development for Boulder area tennis!

The BTA Board

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