City Council Members were impressed with plans for a glitzy new 16-court tennis center, but wary of financial obligations.
Eight indoor courts and, eventually, eight outdoor courts. Classrooms, a community room, a computer lab and a retail pro shop. All for public use.
Those amenities and more would be featured in a proposed new Shakopee Tennis & Education Center, whose details are firming up.
The plan, along with independent feasibility and financial studies and visual renderings prepared by Cuningham Group architects, was presented last week to the Shakopee City Council.
Kevin Hamlin and John VandeCastle, members of the Shakopee Tennis Association, were seeking council members’ informal reactions before the group begins preparing marketing materials in advance of fundraising efforts.
The plans drew mainly enthusiasm, but also a few questions. Most importantly perhaps: What’s the risk to the city?
Council Member Jay Whiting asked if the tennis association would own the building (yes) and what would happen if the facility was a flop and eventually went bankrupt. “Would the city take it over?”
That would be negotiated as part of an agreement at a later date, Hamlin and VandeCastle said.
Said Council Member Mike Luce: “We just don’t want this thing back in our laps. It’s a beautiful building. I hope you can pull it off.”
The facility itself is to be funded entirely by donations. It would be built on land in the city’s Shutrop Park.
The entire complex would cost about $16.5 million, according to a study by Mortenson Construction. Phase One, just the main indoor courts building, would cost about $13 million.
The association would lease the land from the city for a nominal fee. Once the complex is built, recreational users would pay a small yearly fee, with a discount for Shakopee residents.
Leagues and tournaments could be played on the courts. Group lessons or individual lessons from a pro would be offered. Community groups, school programs and seniors could hold classes in the classrooms and computer lab. For observers, there would be an open, elevated viewing area above the indoor courts. A retailer would be sought to lease and run the pro shop.
Last year the city’s tennis association said it has seen rapid growth in its summer adult and youth programs in the last several years. But there is a need and a desire for indoor courts, the association said.
A feasibility study done by a consultant from New York examined numerous facets of the demographics within an eight-minute radius of the proposed facility, calling that the primary market, and within a 12-minute radius considered the secondary market.
The consultant determined that the facility is “very feasible,” the highest rating, partly because it has no nearby competition. The nearest indoor courts are at the Eden Prairie Life Time Fitness, which charges hefty fees for court time. There also are indoor courts near Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and at the University of Minnesota, the study said.
“It’s a very feasible operation if we come into this with no debt from the building,” Hamlin told the council. “It’s always been our plan to raise funds and go in debt-free.”
Hamlin said the association would expect to run the facility at a slight loss the first year, but with profits in years two and three. The studies included proposed hours, proposed court-usage projections and proposed costs of lessons.