The City of Zephyrhills has dotted i’s and crossed t’s in its public-private partnership with the newly opened Sarah Vande Berg Tennis & Wellness Center — amending a private management/operations agreement with firm Tennis P.R.O Florida LLC, on the multimillion-dollar facility.
The Zephyrhills City Council unanimously approved an updated contract with Tennis P.R.O. and its owner, Pascal Collard, during a regular meeting on Sept. 15.
The agreement repeals and replaces one signed back in October 2017, before construction began on the $4.9 million, state-of-the-art tennis complex at 6585 Simons Road.
It comes in time as the facility opened to the public on Sept. 21, with a grand opening celebration scheduled Oct. 17.
The city-owned complex features 11 regulation outdoor tennis courts, eight pickleball courts and four padel courts. It also features a nearly 8,000-square-foot indoor club, which contains a fitness center, restaurant/café, and rooms dedicated for cryotherapy, salt therapy, bio/neuro feedback therapy, massage and yoga, among other frills.
Generally, Collard’s tennis management company will be responsible for day-to-day operations of the facility that will include providing lessons and running concessions. The firm also will handle memberships and fundraising.
The new agreement calls for a 20-year contract between the city and the firm with two subsequent 10-year renewal options with six months’ notice.
Aside from tidying up routine details like property address and parcel ID number, the contract also outlines revenue sources to the city and other parameters.
The city will receive no revenues from the first several years of the facility opening, to allow Collard and his firm to recoup its upfront costs and build a base.
For the remainder of the agreement, however, the firm will pay rent to the city based on a percentage of its profits.
Alcohol sales — beer and wine only — may be sold on the premises, so long as the gross sales do not exceed 49% of total food and beverage sales, so the facility’s indoor café is classified as a restaurant. Relatedly, alcohol sales, retail/merchandise sales and advertisement sales will not be included in revenues due to the city.
However, all other sales, which presently include food sales, academy tuition, lessons, rentals and memberships are included in revenue calculations due to the city.
Other approved changes seem to work in the city’s favor, such as use of property and right to inspection:
• City is allowed to use the facility for special events at no cost, whether it be a multi-agency planning meeting, economic summit, or even a Christmas party
• Contractor must provide audited financial statements at the end of each fiscal year
• Material alterations must be approved by the city
• Contractor will provide restaurant equipment, benches and padel courts
• Contractor is responsible for all landscaping and sod maintenance
• All proposed partnerships with contractor and a third party must be approved by the city
• Collard must retain majority ownership of Tennis P.R.O Florida LLC
• Salaries of each equity owner shall be $100,000 for the purposes of calculating the net income. Any salary above $100,000 may be paid to each equity owner, but will be considered net income and the according percentage shall be paid to the city.
On the whole, the private-public partnership is similar to one Zephyrhills has with East Pasco Family YMCA, in which the city owns the building property, but outsources programming and facility management.
Zephyrhills City Attorney Matt Maggard told council members the updated tennis operations contract summarily contains “reasonable compromises, and the changes are to the benefit of the city.”
Zephyrhills Mayor Gene Whitfield added of the latest agreement: “There was a lot of work putting that contract together getting it right, so it’ll go forward and there won’t be problems in the future.”
In running the tennis center and serving as its CEO, Collard brings a diverse tennis background to the table.
He previously served as tennis director at Saddlebrook in Wesley Chapel and The Merion Cricket Club, in Haverford, Pennsylvania.
His training includes working with several widely known tennis pros, including Younes El Aynaoui and Martin Verkerk, both of whom coincidentally ranked as high as No. 14 in the ATP Tour rankings back in 2003.
Despite being a challenging time to open up a new facility amid the COVID-19 pandemic, city leaders believe the project will be a boon for years to come — drawing international interest, and providing more recreational opportunities for local youth and residents alike. They also praised Collard for his efforts put into the initiative the past several years.
Councilman Lance Smith observed: “We’re going to have people from all over world coming here, participating in events here, playing here, bringing their kids here to the schools, so it’s going to be a really good thing for not only Zephyrhills, but Pasco County, so I’m excited about getting going.”
Council President Charles Proctor among others, echoed those sentiments: “I believe in the long run, it’s going to be amazing and really make an impression for not only the community, but the city and for the whole the area.”
Published September 23, 2020