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A Feasibility Study for A Public Indoor Tennis Facility

Presented By Eric Krause
Krause House Info-Research Solutions

For the Cromarty Tennis Club

Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
April 11, 2006
Revised January 16, 2009



Some of the recommendations below are now outdated because of later developments.

(i) The Report

Krause House Info-Research Solutions has undertaken the following assessment free-of-charge to determine the technical and economic possibility of constructing a permanent year-round covered public tennis facility consisting of one doubles court. Being a feasibility study, this report is designed to provide an overview of the primary issues to determine whether the idea of constructing such a public facility makes any sense. In other words, what are the issues which a future business plan would need to address?

(a) Mission Statement

For the Cromarty Community Indoor Tennis Centre (CCITC) to raise funds to construct, maintain, and operate Cape Bretonís first indoor facility (one covered doubles court) designed only for tennis. An all-season operation, the Centre will feature programmes that without exception will be CCITC run and designed. Where practical, that design will meet Tennis Nova Scotia, or Tennis Canada standards.

Built exclusively for the benefit of the public, with a particular focus on the young, old, and the challenged, the Centre will provide a summer/critical winter playing venue for all levels and ages of tennis players, from novice through seasoned. It will encourage high public user participation rates through an affordable hourly rate - first come, first serve - and educational group clinics. It will stress that its cushioned court is state-of-the-art and exceptionally physically friendly, to draw in the older player who might hesitate to participate otherwise.

The Centre will stress public instruction, at both an hourly and clinic level. At the hourly level, CCITC trained staff volunteers will provide tennis advice, knowledge, practical tips, and even racquets upon the asking, at no additional charge.

In addition, the Centre will target the younger public, through assorted winter and summer group clinics. It will maximize the number of operating hours to what is practical. In particular, the Centre will concentrate on winter school, winter after school, and winter junior development programmes based on Tennis Canada training, instructional, and skills upgrading criteria. Winter coaching clinics would be another priority, as would other community group initiatives, such as wheelchair and mixed senior (plus 55) play. 

During the summer, held will be similar group clinics designed to enhance any Island outdoor programme that requests CCITC help.

(b) The Building

The recommendation of the report is for the erection of a basic, cost-effective, "pre-engineered rigid framed" steel public facility that could be enhanced in the future. Examined, but rejected are the following building types: Pre-engineered metal rib arch ["Quonset"], air supported bubble, and tensioned fabric frame.

Initially then, this building should serve up the standard four walls, a white ceiling, indirect court lighting, a superior insulated envelope, an economical heating system, the most simple of washroom facilities, and a first class alternate-style cushioned tennis court.

If the executive of the Cromarty Community Indoor Tennis Centre should approve the next step, the undertaking of a business plan, it might want that initiative to keep in mind that if facility growth and financial considerations warrant an upgrade in the future, the size of the original constructed building will determine how this might be done - whether by appendage, outbuilding, or within the structure itself.

As revealed in the summaries at the end of this report, the yearly summer/winter operational costs of a public indoor facility over the course of its life are as financially manageable as the Cromarty Tennis Club's current summer programme, and could be met without much effort through a modest player per hour user charge.

The capital funding of such a public facility will be more difficult. For example, at a 6% mortgage rate amortized over 20 years, the payment for a $200,000.00 obligation would be approximately $1,425.00 per month or $17,100 per year. However, if it were only $100,000.00, then it would be $712.00 per month or $8,550 per year; and etc.

While for some, these capital figures may look formidable, for others they are but a challenge. It is a fact that many a club has overcome - even significantly reduced these same figures - through government grants, donations, fund raisers, etc., to run a viable all year-round one-court operation year after year after year.

So read on before you make your decision.

(c) Location

Three locations are presently contemplated:

(1) On the grounds of the Cromarty Tennis Club
(2) At an unspecified CBRM property tax-free site
(3) On the grounds of CBU [Cape Breton University]

(d) Rental Option

An option to the construction of a public facility is, of course, a rental of a public or commercial facility.

In the falls of both 2005 and 2006 - following the loss of the North Sydney [acrylic - probably "plexi-pave"] indoor tennis court after the 2004 winter season - this writer made countless attempts to rent one - or even several venues in different locations over the same season - where a winter tennis programme might be conducted. Each effort failed despite the many inquiries and follow-ups, for a variety of reasons including a too high per hour cost, or a lack of practical playing times for those players who held full-time employment. In contrast, negotiating playing times for retirees was not a problem, though hourly cost was sometimes an issue. Significantly, failure to rent a public facility was never for lack of players - indeed, the problem was always the threat of too many players vis-ŗ-vis available playing times, even though they knew that the court surface was poor, that ceiling height was less than ideal, and that the winter driving distance was to be relatively long.

(e) Creation of a Trust

The Cromarty Tennis Club should support the creation of a separate registered charitable not-for-profit public indoor tennis trust under the name Cromarty Community Indoor Tennis Centre - with its own board of directors - to encourage and accept tax deductible donations; and to keep the operation, assets, activities, books, and records of the Centre distinct from those of the Cromarty Tennis Club or any other organization. While there would perhaps be some cross directorship with the membership-based Cromarty Tennis Club to ensure a relational connection, the creation of a trust, with its own non-Cromarty-Tennis-Club controlled board, its distinctive name, its clear separation based on a different clientele (hourly fee based, first come, first serve) and location (indoor tennis building) - plus a financial firewall between the two bodies - would ensure that the Cromarty Tennis Club would not incur any financial or other liabilities with respect to the activities of the public Centre. The financial firewall would also ensure that none of the Centre's assets could be used to benefit the Cromarty Tennis Club, or else the Canada Revenue Agency could revoke the Centre's registered charitable status.

(ii) Caveat

The effort to construct a public indoor facility is a stand-alone one and must not impact at all upon the operational and capital requirements of the existing Cromarty Tennis Club outdoor facility in any area. For example, the existing Cromarty Tennis Club courts are currently under review for major upgrade, and that project must go ahead without any reference to, or distraction from, the indoor public initiative.

(iii) Acknowledgements

Locally, Cromarty Tennis Club members Donnie Bonnell, Bill Buckland, Barry Kennedy, Bob King, Kevin MacNeil, and John Miller, and, as well, Joneljim (Gary Peach), Superior Propane, and Bluenose Insurance Brokers (Darren MacNeil) have provided valuable input that can be found here and there in this report. Off-Island, Olympia Steel was most helpful.

The following have volunteered to serve as "founding members" on the non-profit "Cromarty Community Indoor Tennis Centre": Eric Krause, Chairman (Historian/Archivist and a Cromarty Tennis Club director), Kevin MacNeil, Vice-Chairman (Educator and a Cromarty Tennis Club general member), Don MacKinnon, Treasurer/Secretary (Devco Clerk and a Cromarty Tennis Club general member, Al Khouri, Special Projects - Building (Businessman and a Cromarty Tennis Club general member), and Lakosha Hesham, Special Projects - Fund Raising (Doctor and a Cromarty Tennis Club general member).