2008 Municipal Facility of the Year: Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex
It’s a tennis oasis, and it’s been garnering praise from players and organizations alike. The Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex in Surprise, Ariz., opened in 2007 to rave reviews. With its 25 courts, including a stadium court, along with a tastefully designed clubhouse that includes lockers, lounge and pro shop, the complex won the USTA’s 2008 Outstanding Facility award. And now, with its wealth of programming, growing player base and unique relationship with the city, the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex is RSI’s 2008 Municipal Facility of the Year.
“Tennis has been kind of new on the western side of Phoenix,” says John Austin, the tennis operations manager at the Surprise complex. “There are a lot of 55-and-over communities with courts, but they’re not accessible to the general public.” The Surprise Tennis Complex has no memberships and is open to anyone — daytime court fees for residents are just $2 for 90 minutes, non-residents pay $3; night rates are $3 and $4.
“The demographics in this area has shifted from heavily 55 and over to about 35 years old, with two kids,” says Austin. “So we have the full spectrum of people playing here.”
And the complex is bringing in big events, too, including sectional and national championships and a professional Outback Champions Series event. In February, the facility will host the Fed Cup quarterfinal between the U.S. and Argentina, then in April it will host the popular USTA Tennis on Campus National Championships.
The city of Surprise really was “thinking long-term,” says Austin. One key is the “impact fee” that developers pay when building in the rapidly growing area. “The city used no bonds or loans because 25 percent of the impact fee goes to the park and rec. It was all done on developer’s money.”
- Adjust programming to suit changing demographics in your area.
- Bring in big events. The money it will add to the local economy will help keep the future bright for large municipal facilities.
- Give players all they need. The Surprise complex is open seven days a week, has drop-in programs, classes and activities for all ages and skill levels, areas to socialize, and more.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.