By James Coburn
The Edmond Sun
It was all smiles as city leaders and representatives from Edmond Public Schools gathered Wednesday for the groundbreaking of the Edmond Tennis Center at 601 W. 15th Street.
“This is something that has been on the city residents’ request list for a number of years. It’s a happy happenstance for us,” Mayor Elizabeth Waner said.
Completion of the project is expected during the early summer 2020, she added.
The City of Edmond and Edmond Public Schools are splitting the $15.1 million cost for the project. Revenue for the project stems from the 2015 and 2017 school bonds as well as the 2017 Capital Improvement Sales Tax Fund.
Phase 1 of the project will double the city’s tennis capacity from 11 outdoor courts and three indoor courts at the KickingBird Tennis Center, to 24 outdoor and six indoor, Waner said. Additional indoor courts will be added during Phase 2 at a later date, Waner said.
Waner paid tribute to the late Mayor Charles Lamb who was highly instrumental in bringing the project to fruition.
“You need to know this project he had his hands all over it. He was very dedicated to it, and we will benefit from his contributions,” Waner said.
The Edmond Tennis Center is the second project between the city and Edmond Public Schools. The first project, she said, was the Edmond Aquatic Center that was completed five years ago.
Superintendent of Schools Bret Towne said the swimming center provided an excellent model for cooperation and shared cost. Cooperation is what the city wants, Towne said.
Towne said the partnership between the city and school district resulted in a better product than what would have been achieved working independently.
The Edmond Tennis Center will be a generational facility for decades to come, Towne continued.
“This is one of those days in the life of a community we need to put a circle around and say, ‘I was there.’” Towne said.
Tennis Center Manager David Minihan said the groundbreaking was not only great for Edmond, but also for the entire state. He has had the opportunity to view many tennis centers in the U.S. and said Hornbeek Blatt Architects designed one of the best facilities in the nation, Minihan said.
“Having 24 outdoor courts and six indoor courts — the sky’s the limit on the type of events that we can bring in,” Minihan said. “My wife and I have been privileged to be national tournament directors for 19 years now. We’re going to go after as many national events as we can, sectional events. We’re going to partner up with UCO and bring in some ITA events as well.”
The Edmond Tennis Center will not only expand programs at the KickingBird Tennis Center, but also provide much needed resources for expanding the Play it Forward Tennis Foundation, Minihan said. The outreach foundation provides opportunities for young people who cannot afford to play tennis, as well as for children with down syndrome.
More state championships will be built on an already solid tradition, Minihan said.
“It’s going to be huge serving all the high schools, middle schools, and the public,” said Brack Wilbur, assistant Edmond Memorial tennis coach.
Bill Tower, president of the United States Tennis Association Oklahoma District said competitors will come in from other markets and say, “What the heck is happening here? How do you have this facility to play at?”
Facilities like the Edmond Tennis Center don’t exist in other markets, he said.
Tower said more than 2,000 hotel rentals resulted from guests attending events at the Oklahoma City Tennis Center in 2018. The Edmond Tennis Center will showcase the community to people living all over the country, Tower said.