Construction nearing on Zephyrhills tennis center

After more than two years of planning and design, a multi-million dollar tennis center in Zephyrhills will soon break ground and become a reality.

Construction is expected to begin in August on the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis and Wellness Center, Zephyrhills deputy city manager Billy Poe said during a special June 17 council meeting on the issue.

With the project’s final engineered site plan set to be completed this month, the city then will  seek construction bids through July, Poe said.

Construction is expected to begin in August on the Sarah Vande Berg Tennis and Wellness Center, situated west of Simons Road in Zephyrhills. The $3.5 million project is expected to be complete around summer 2020. (Courtesy of City of Zephyrhills)

Site and road work also is scheduled to begin next month by another contractor at the future facility’s location, which will be situated on nearly 5 acres of land, north of Dean Dairy Road and west of Simons Road.

The timeframe for the project’s completion is around summer 2020, Poe told city council members.

“I think we’ve accounted for everything,” Poe said of the design plans.

The $3.5 million tennis facility is being funded largely through combination of state appropriations, Penny for Pasco and recreation impact fees from several new housing developments.

The project is a public-private partnership between the City of Zephyrhills and Tennis P.R.O. and its owner Pascal Collard, who will operate and manage the tennis facility. It’s a similar arrangement the city has with the East Pasco YMCA.

Renderings show 11 outdoor  tennis courts (eight clay surface, two hard surface, exhibition court), built to USTA (United States Tennis Association) standards, as well as eight pickleball courts and four padel courts.

The tennis center also includes a 7,000-square-foot indoor clubhouse that will include a fitness and rehabilitation center, restaurant and cafe, pro shop and kid’s club, among other amenities.

The facility will be open approximately 80 hours per week.

More amenities also may come on line later.

Collard told council members at some point he is looking to phase in a 30,000-square-foot multi-purpose indoor sports complex which could accommodate four tennis courts and a soccer field made of artificial turf.

Indoor sports field house aside, Collard said the tennis center will draw people from inside and outside Zephyrhills and will become a draw for various regional, national and international tournaments.

He described the facility as “a community sports center for everybody.”

“I think that to have a place like this in Zephyrhills, it’s unique,” said Collard, a professional tennis instructor and former tennis director at Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel. “If you build something like this, we do believe that a lot of people will come.”

The meeting also included a discussion of the tennis center’s membership fees, which Collard presented to the council.

An annual individual tennis-only membership is listed at $65 per month. Cheaper price points will be offered for four-person households ($120), individual seniors over 65 years old ($50) and household seniors over 65 years old ($90).

There will be a series of other annual membership packages with various levels of access (bronze, silver, gold, platinum), along with a six-month snowbird membership option to run from October through March.

A platinum membership, for instance, provides access to all courts and in-house tournaments, as well as the center’s fitness room, cryotherapy/salt room, and kid’s club. It also includes a golf membership at Silverado Golf & Country Club. An individual platinum membership (ages 17 and up) is listed at $1,999 annually, paid in full.

By comparison, an individual gold membership, which includes all amenities except golf, is $1,296 annually.

All memberships will include a one-time $250 initiation fee. However, the fee will be waived for the first 250 Zephyrhills residents to sign up for a membership.

There will be a 20 percent discount in memberships for nurses, teachers, military veterans and local and state government employees.

In addition to memberships, the tennis center will offer non-member day passes, daily guest passes and hourly court rental opportunities. It also will be used for receptions, fundraisers and other community events.

The facility also will host free tennis camps and lessons to underprivileged youth on a regular basis through its non-profit counterpart, Sarah Vande Berg Tennis Foundation.

“It’s nothing set in stone,” Collard said of the membership prices. “We can tweak it, we can change it, but it’s pretty much what is done in the U.S. and different places.”

“It reflects in the pricing that we’re really giving everybody the opportunity to benefit from this center,” he added.

The breakeven point for the facility is roughly 450 members, Collard said.

In determining membership costs, Collard and city staffers analyzed membership fees at several other tennis and athletic clubs throughout the Tampa Bay region, such as the Beerman Family Tennis Center in Lakeland and the Cindy Hummel Tennis Center in Auburndale.

“Really, our numbers were very comparable and even sometimes less,” city planning director Todd Vande Berg said of the membership fees. “We’re offering so much more, and we’re not even talking about the restaurant (inside the tennis center clubhouse), so we did take a careful look at the comparisons to make sure they were in line.”

Council members didn’t seem to have qualms about the various price points, instead expressing their eagerness for the forthcoming tennis venture.

“I’m excited about it,” councilwoman Jodi Wilkeson said. “I think about the people that I know that play tennis, that’s a great investment for them and would like to have that opportunity.”

Added councilman Lance Smith: “I think it’s a good partnership and I think we’re going to learn as we go along. I’m just anxious to get the facility going.”

Council president Ken Burgess said it’s “good timing” for the city to get a tennis center, pointing out roadway developments along State Road 54, State Road 56 and the Interstate 75-Overpass Road interchange extension to Zephyrhills.

“I think this is one more thing that’s going to put Zephyrhills on the map,” Burgess said. “I mean, I realize that probably a lot of our (tennis) members may come from not necessarily the city limits, but it’s still going to put Zephyrhills on the map. It’s a great design and I think everything’s coming together, all at the right time, too.”

The tennis center is named after the Sarah Vande Berg, a former Zephyrhills High School district champion, who died in an automobile accident at the age of 21 in October 2015. She was the daughter of longtime city planning director Todd Vande Berg.

Published June 26, 2019

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