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Tennis bubble rolls off to storage; four outdoor courts to be built

A tennis bubble trade-off evoked a mixed reaction among tennis players during the Glenwood Springs City Council meeting Thursday.

City Council decided to build four new outdoor courts at the Community Center and leave the bubble, purchased earlier this year from the Snowmass Club, in outdoor storage in the city’s boneyard.

Glenwood Springs Parks and Recreation Department director Dan Rodgerson pushed down his cost estimate for installing the bubble to $310,000, and noted that at a recent, well-attended meeting of tennis enthusiasts, most supported installing the bubble.



“They said they wanted to do anything they could to make it happen,” he said.

But Rodgerson noted that four uncovered courts would provide more total tennis usage than two courts under the bubble.



He also predicted there would be grumbles from people who see the 40-foot-tall, 120-foot-long by 120-foot-wide white bubble as an eyesore. It would be highly visible from many neighborhoods in West Glenwood.

Several tennis players spoke out in support of the bubble.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” said Mike Blair. “Whenever I go by Copper Mountain, I think, `Those people are lucky, they can play all winter.'”

Walt Brown said he’s played tennis all over the world and he would love to see the Snowmass Club bubble reinflated in Glenwood Springs.

“I’ve played in this bubble probably 200 times, and I think you stole it,” he said.

The city actually paid $8,000 for the bubble.

But City Council decided to forego the bubble to build four courts in front of the Community Center next spring.

“I don’t want to open up the Community Center next year without any tennis courts,” Councilman Don Gillespie said.

“It makes all the sense to me to build four courts now,” Mayor Don Vanderhoof said.

Councilman Dave Merritt vehemently disagreed, however.

“Why did we bother asking for public input on this?” he asked. “By foregoing this, we are essentially throwing the bubble away.”

City manager Mike Copp gave bubble fans a glimmer of hope, saying he would look for a way to partially fund the bubble, leaving bubble supporters to raise the remainder needed.

“I’m saying there could be ways we could make this happen,” he said.

After the final 5-2 vote to build four courts, with Merritt and Rick Davis dissenting, tennis players expressed mixed feelings about the outcome.

Some said they were happy to get four outdoor courts, while others were bitterly disappointed that the bubble is, for now, deflated.

“Four courts are better than none,” said C.C. Nolen. “The bubble isn’t dead, it’s just waiting in the boneyard until the right donors come along.”

Corrine Merritt said she’d play at the four courts, but recalled, “at the Parks and Recreation meeting, the community was 2-1 in favor and (City Council) didn’t want to listen. We wanted the bubble.”

Rodgerson said the council’s decision to build four courts is a boon to the Community Center and to tennis players around the area.

“There’s a lot of strong feelings both ways, but the bottom line is we have four new courts, so the tennis community wins,” he said.

Rodgerson expects to charge players $2 to $5 per hour to play on the new courts.

The courts will be cleaned and maintained and players will be able to reserve the courts and use the Community Center’s locker rooms.

“I have a hard time looking at this as a loss for the tennis community,” he said. “The city hasn’t built tennis courts for 20 years. I look at this as a huge step forward.”


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