Public will have to pay to play at new tennis courts

by Matthew Cross

The new hockey and tennis facility will be located where the 14 outdoor tennis courts next to Mariucci Arena stand right now.
Women’s athletics director Chris Voelz said that space will be utilized by either building up or digging down and will not take a parking lot away. The arena will consist of a rink with between 1,200 and 3,500 seats and approximately 14 indoor tennis courts.
The courts, however, will not be free to the public like the current outdoor courts. The rental of this facility is expected to help pay for the extra money the University must raise to build the facility, which could be as much as $8 million.
Voelz said making the public pay is just one of the ways the new facility will generate money.
“We haven’t discussed any dollar amounts yet,” Voelz said. “But we need to pay the bills, and we have to make it into a revenue source for women’s athletics.”
The University also expects to rent the rink out to various boys and girls high school hockey teams around the state and eventually be one of the sites for the state tournament. This will provide most of the revenue for repaying the borrowed money and funding the women’s athletics department.
The tennis courts in the new facility will also serve as a home for the Gophers men’s and women’s teams, which have been competing at the 98th Street Northwest Racquet Club in Bloomington.
Rumors have surfaced that the owners of Northwest Health Clubs, Harvey Ratner and Marv Wolfenson, are going to sell the facilities. Minnesota feared that the new owners won’t allow the Gophers to practice and compete for free like they have in the past.
Hence, Minnesota felt the need to have an on-campus facility.
“Harv and Marv have been wonderful to us,” Voelz said. “They’ve given us the use of their facilities for years. I don’t know their status, but I do know that having facilities on campus is better.”
Voelz said making the public pay to use the indoor courts is the only option. However, she said the University will try to find a solution.
“We plan to try and replace the outdoor courts somewhere, somehow,” Voelz said.
It is not known when this project will take place, however.