Newmarket is weighing whether to manage a new tennis facility publicly in the winter, but private providers are waiting in the wings.
The town is gathering input on what the community wants to see of a new tennis facility at the Shining Hill development in the southwest portion of town. While the town’s current downtown facility has been run for decades by a private provider in the winter, staff floated the possibility of running it publicly and asked for input.
Newmarket Winter Tennis Club manager Sean Swail is affiliated with the Tennis Clubs of Canada. He said the community should put its input into the matter.
“It’s definitely something that I think is in everyone’s best interests to have their own shot at what they want to see the facility look like and run,” Swail said. “We’re happy to support the town any way we can. We obviously feel a strong connection to the community over the past 40 years. We’d obviously like to run it.”
Newmarket tennis has had a seasonal structure over many years. While a non-profit group, the Newmarket Community Tennis Club, has run things in the summer, the winter season has been done privately.
The town said summer tennis management is not changing. But with a new facility, director of recreation and culture Colin Service asked the community whether they would prefer public management of the facility in the winter, or else the town will put out a request for proposals for a private manager.
“The town is exploring all options for operating the new tennis facility,” Service said. “What is most important in the operation of this new facility is that the facility remains financially accessible and provides an inclusive environment that is welcoming to all."
Swail said the management structure has been in place since the 1980s, with staff often carrying over between the two seasons.
He said they have developed good relationships they would like to see continue. The winter time has added costs, he said, and he is unsure how the town will handle those.
“There are different ways you can structure fees,” Swail said. “I don’t know what the ultimate result would be in terms of cost to the client if it were to go one way or another.”
But other private managers are also eyeing the facility with interest. Bill Maron of Total Tennis, which has delivered tennis and pickleball programs for over 20 years, including in Aurora, plans to make a bid if it goes to requests for proposals.
He said there are plenty of benefits to having a private provider with decades of experience versus the challenges of managing something the town has not in the past.
“A win-win situation, in terms of the town, being able to make money without the challenges of the operations of what’s going to be quite a busy facility,” he said.
Maron said there will likely be a few different providers interested if it goes out to tender. He said his company has the expertise and is also comfortable managing pickleball if the town opts to include that in the new facility.
Regardless, the town has indicated it is looking for input from the community about management and the new facility.
“When new facilities, like this, are created it is an appropriate time to evaluate all options for operating the facility and to provide council with all the facts and clear options for consideration,” Service said.
The town is collecting feedback on the new facility through a survey available at heynewmarket.ca/tennis, until Feb. 17.