An addition to the 31-month-old Rome Tennis Center at Berry College to house six indoor, temperature controlled courts already is being called “one of the largest in the nation.”
But with a price tag now set at $5 million — nearly half the $11.4 million voters agreed to tax themselves to fund the original 60-court center at Old Dalton Road and the Armuchee Connector — it could mean more “tough love” especially in an election year with six of nine City Commission seats before voters in November.
As shown above, the original estimate on the indoor courts was a flat $4 million with roughly 75 percent of that associated with construction costs. Since then, the building price has jumped by more than $1 million with another $75,000 in consulting services (Collins Project Management) and another $22,500 for technology. The furniture and fixture estimate is now less than half the original estimate while another $112,000 has been shaved from administrative costs and contingency estimates.
Indoor courts were considered as part of the original tennis center concept. The tennis center, first proposed in 2008 but failed to gain financial support from state officials, eventually became part of the $65 million special purpose tax package narrowly approved by just 84 votes in November 2013. Other marquee items were the still-idle $5.67 million extension of the runway at Richard B. Russell Airport/Towers Field, the $5.7 million for the new PAWS animal control complex at 99 North Ave. and $8 million for the purchase of property and improvements to spur industrial development (most of which not only remains unspent but will be among the last dollars collected as the 2013 tax expires March 31).
Even with the unscheduled addition of a major college tennis championship in its first year, the tennis center did not break even, as reported by the Rome News.
On Monday, during the caucus session held before the City Commission meeting, the city was brought up-to-date on the ongoing proposal to add the indoor courts. The city is working with the following company, which released this statement on the proposal:
BM&K Construction and Engineering announces the city of Rome has chosen the firm for the preconstruction and construction services for the indoor tennis facility at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College.
Currently, the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College is a 60-court facility on a 30-acre site. The center is comprised of USTA standard asphalt courts and includes six NCAA regulation courts, three center courts for tournament and collegiate play, and one exhibition court.
The new indoor tennis facility will be one of the largest in the nation. The driving force for the construction of the six indoor courts is to make Rome Tennis Center a competitive bidder for major national events, which typically stipulate the availability of indoor courts in the event of bad weather. Rome was chosen to host the 2020 and 2021 ACC championships and will need to have the indoor complex completed in time for the first of those tournaments in April 2020.
One of the planks supporters are using to add the indoor courts is a return of the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s and women’s tennis championships in 2020 and 2021. The Rome Tennis Center, by default because of North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” subbed as home of the twin tournaments in 2017 and received excellent reviews. The event drew a then ACC-record crowd of 1,793 fans. That’s about the size of the crowd at a midsummer Sunday afternoon Rome Braves’ baseball game. The economic impact assessment by the Rome tourism office: $553,093. There were no indoor courts in the first ACC tournament.