October 20, 2013

TENNIS: Indoor tennis close to return

By Gary Hawkins ghawkins@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — Indoor tennis is close to returning to Augusta. How close depends on the fundraising efforts of the Kennebec Valley Tennis Association.

The KVTA held an informational and fundraising meeting Sunday on the Leighton Road at the site of the last indoor courts which closed six years ago. The organization plans to lease the nearly 50-year-old building and refurbish the four tennis courts it houses as well as locker rooms and the lobby.

 The KVTA’s capital campaign has set a fundraising goal of $300,000 and needs to raise it by the end of the month when a decision to lease the building comes due. Renovations will take about two months and the KVTA has set an opening for January of 2014.

“It’s going to be close but I think we’re going to do it,” KVTA president Dan Bence said.

The KVTA has raised $75,000 so far, including pledges. An anonymous donor has pledged a matching grant of $50,000 and the United States Tennis Association will also contribute a $50,000 matching grant.

“I think we’ll get both of those grants without too much trouble,” Bence said. “That would put us at $200,000. So then we need to raise $100,000.”

The meeting included a storyboard outlining proposed expenses and revenue as well as photos of what the courts and locker rooms will look like. Renovations include a new energy efficient ceiling, a heating system that will be hooked into the natural gas line that already runs along Leighton Road, lighting and court resurfacing among other items. Estimated expenses are $222,000. Annual revenue from memberships, lessons, and outside leasing of the building is estimated at $244, 550.

The courts have remained in place since the building’s inception under the banner of Capital Tennis. It has also housed health clubs — Pegasus, World Gym & Racquet and Ascona Fitness — that have included tennis. Bence told the audience of about 15 people that the courts are in surprisingly good shape but will need to be resurfaced when consistent temperatures are reached in the spring.

The yet to be named facility plans to hire a part-time manager and a pro. Lessons for adults and children will be offered along with USTA events, scrambles and leagues. Both Bence, who coaches the Hall-Dale High School boys team and Cony High girls coach Wilbur Shardlow are certified instructors.

The facility hopes to offer pickle ball, volleyball and badminton as well as tennis and plans to lease the courts for outside events. Membership prices have yet to be set, but naming rights for courts are available for $20,000 and advertising will be sold for the surrounding walls.

Bence praised the cooperation of the Gall family which owns the building as one of the determining factors in the KVTA’s progress.

“I think they’re bending over backwards to get us into this facility,” he said.

A second informational meeting will be held at proposed facility located at south end of the Leighton Road at 6 p.m., Thursday. Anyone wishing to make a gift of a donation or pledge can send them to KVTA, c/o Daniel Bence, 12 Brunswick Terrace,  Gardiner, Me., 04345. The non-for-profit KVTA has applied for 501c3 status, retroactive to September, which will make all donations tax deductible.


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