Berry College and Rome officials held ceremonial groundbreaking festivities Monday for a new Fairfield Inn & Suites hotel adjacent to the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College.

Hogan Constructions crews have been doing site preparation work for about two weeks, since the city of Rome gave final approval to a Tax Allocation District financial assistance plan for the project.

“It was hard to envision this a few weeks ago,” said Berry VP for Finance Brian Erb.

College President Steve Briggs said they’re excited about what the hotel will do for both the community and the tennis center itself. A hotel was part of the original dream for a world class tennis center as far back as 2008.

“This is a huge piece of the puzzle,” Rome City Manager Sammy Rich said.

“I want to thank Berry for its commitment to this project,” Rich said. “We always knew we had the opportunity to do something really great here.”

The partnership between the city and Berry has been ideal, Mayor Bill Collins said. He started with completion of the new indoor tennis courts, the opening of the new Mount Berry Trail and, now, groundbreaking for the hotel.

The 80-plus room hotel will be a custom designed three-story facility overlooking the six NCAA championship courts at the southeast corner of the tennis center.

The college was already planning to provide larger than normal fitness and swimming facilities, but Marriott dictated that they be even larger. The hotel will cater mainly to young athletes from around the country who participate in USTA junior and collegiate tournaments almost year-round at the tennis center.

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