The need for indoor tennis courts to go along with the nation’s largest hard-court tennis complex at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College was made abundantly clear to community leaders Wednesday.
“We have lost (bids for) several tournaments due to not having indoor courts,” said Tom Daglis, tennis center director, during a meeting with board members of the Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We lost one national-level tournament to Chattanooga and one to Peachtree City.”
City Manager Sammy Rich said indoor courts were part of the original SPLOST proposal in 2013, however they were cut to make the price tag for the complex more palatable to voters.
Daglis said most of the major tennis tournaments are bid in three-year cycles, so Rome lost out on bids through 2020.
“We have got to figure out the indoor-court piece,” Rich said. “That’s on my mind quite a bit as we move forward.”
Daglis said indoor courts are necessary for many of the larger tournaments so play can continue during inclement weather, preventing tournaments from dragging out extra days. Rome has made arrangements with the McCallie School in Chattanooga to host indoor matches if needed during the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s and women’s championships. The tournament will be hosted at the tennis center April 25-30.
Daglis told the board that six courts are all he needs to be able to meet most bid requirements. He said the facility did not necessarily have to be a fully enclosed structure, but could simply involve a roof over existing courts, which could include those at the Downtown Tennis Center.
Daglis said that whatever the community is able to develop would not be used strictly for major tournaments, but would also be year-round revenue-producing courts.
Neither Daglis nor Rich could provide a hard figure for an indoor facility.
Daglis said the feedback from tournaments the new tennis center has already hosted has been positive. The only problems participants and their families have cited was the lack of an indoor facility and the lack of hotels immediately adjacent to the massive facility on the Armuchee Connector.
Daglis also reported that a large scoreboard would be delivered to the tennis center in time for the ACC event in April. The scoreboard will be located near the six NCAA courts, which are the first visitors encounter as they drive into the complex.
Rome will be showcased during the ACC event as ESPN brings its cameras to cover the final two days of the tournament.
Tickets for the ACC championships will go on sale Wednesday.