Professional and collegiate tennis tournaments that draw thousands of people to Cary Tennis Park every year will be able to continue rain or shine after a $5.12 million expansion adds covered courts to the park.
The 24-acre Cary Tennis Park, in west Cary between Green Hope High and Elementary schools, hosts about 20 sanctioned tournaments per year, including the ACC Tennis Tournament this April.
Sean Ferreira, the park’s tennis services coordinator, said between tournaments and recreational play, nearly 250,000 people visit the park every year, generating about $1.5 million in revenue.
The seven new covered courts, totaling 55,000 square feet, will allow the town to continue to host dozens of scheduled tournaments during inclement weather and will provide patrons with year-round play. The project, which will begin Spring 2016, also includes clubhouse renovations. Construction will be done in phases to minimize disruption to park operations and is expected to be done by Spring 2017.
“I think it’s really positive,” Ferreira said. “It’s going to give the tennis community more opportunity for play.”
Existing park amenities include 30 uncovered courts, locker rooms, spectator seating, a snack bar, practice wall and pro shop.
Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, who has been playing tennis for more than 40 years, said he already plays tennis year-round, but some players don’t if it’s too wet or cold.
“I think you’ll see even recreational play under the cover when it’s raining now, which will be a benefit to citizens, and now we will be able to attract other tournaments,” he said. “Rain is the only thing that could have stopped it, and now it won’t.”
Cary resident Maria Reier, who plays tennis at the park nearly every day, said she would be interested in using the covered courts once completed.
“I think this is great,” she said at a recent town meeting about the park. “People really like to play all year round, and some days, like today, it’s just too cold. To have the option to play indoors is very exciting.”
The Cary Tennis Park is expected to receive $4.5 million through a 2011 interlocal funding agreement with Wake County – half to come from the county and half from the town.
The town recently completed another upgrade at the tennis park, giving the park’s eight oldest courts, which were built in 1998, post-tension concrete playing surfaces. Reid Saunders, a town architect, described these new surfaces as more durable and maintenance free compared to the courts original asphalt surfaces.
In the future, Reier said she hoped to see even more courts added as tennis’ popularity continues to grow. Although additional courts and parking are included as a future phase in the town’s master plan, Weinbrecht said he believes this would be cost prohibitive in the near future because of other ongoing town projects.
“Even after 37 courts .... tennis is just growing and growing,” Reier said.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon