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Alberta Tennis bubble turning Calgary outdoor courts into year-round venue

Visitors and players to the Osten and Victor Alberta Tennis Centre will soon see significant changes to the outdoor courts.

The centre is encasing its five outdoor courts in a bubble, promising a 37 per cent increase in its indoor court space inventory.

Danny De Costa, CEO of the Alberta Tennis Centre, said that this would bump up capacity from approximately 30,000 players per year to near 50,000.

“The expansions certainly are something that is going to benefit many, many Calgarians and Albertans,” he said.

“This is a significant development, it’s a realization of our vision to be a leading tennis facility in Canada.”

Overall, the covered courts will offer an additional 3,700 hours of court time each year. The project is expected to be completed by the fall.

The construction is a part of the $5.6 million multi-year program by Tennis Canada to transform outdoor tennis facilities into year-round courts.

Additional funding for the bubble was provided by Rogers Communications, the Government of Alberta, the Calgary Parks Foundation, and donations from community members.

Ward 11 Councillor Kourney Penner, left, Calgary Parks Foundation CEO Sheila Taylor, Calgary Midnapore MP Stephanie Kusie, Robin Emin, director for enterprise and commercial at Rogers Communications, Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver, Chair for the Board of Directors at the Osten & Victor Alberta Tennis Centre, Ron Ghitter, Tennis Canada CEO Michael Downey, tennis centre CEO Danny Da Costa, and Al Osten at the Osten and Victor Alberta Tennis Centre in Calgary on Friday, June 3, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Making new tournaments possible

De Costa said, that while the new spaces wouldn’t reduce the costs to play at the facility from increased supply of spaces, they would be able to continue to keep the same rates as they’ve had for the past six years.

“Any surpluses that we the centre generates goes right back into tennis, so that’s one way to keep the cost down, and obviously allows us to reinvest in developments like this,” he said.

One of the ways the centre is planning on reinvesting further is through an expanded number of tournaments.

The upcoming Calgary National Bank Challenger pro tennis event will be for the first time hosting a women’s tournament alongside the men’s. The prize money from both tournaments will be equal this year.

“We’re very thrilled to be able to be in a position to have equal prize money. I think it’s great for tennis, it’s great for sport, and it’s great for women’s sport across Canada,” he said.

Al Osten shows off his tennis-themed socks at the groundbreaking for a new bubble to turn outdoor courts into indoor courts at the Osten and Victor Alberta Tennis Centre in Calgary on Friday, June 3, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Improving the lives of Albertans

Alberta’s Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ric McIver, said that the expansion was important for both sports, and for the welfare of Albertans.

“Tennis is one of those sports you can start playing when you’re very young, and stop playing not many days before the end of your life,” he said.

“People can stay in shape their whole life, they can socialize—these are things that our government is interested in, because these are things that help with physical fitness that keep people out of the healthcare system.”

He spoke about the opportunity that tennis has to reach youth at risk, and for the people that “just want to go out and meet their friends to hit a ball around.”

Ward 11 Councillor Kourtney Penner said that Calgarians are looking for more year-round activities, including those traditionally seen as summer only.

“We need more spaces for year round recreation, and whether that’s traditionally summer sports that we can now do in the winter, or if that’s the addition of winter sports outside in parks, all things we can do to be a healthier city and a more active city are really improvements for the community,” she said.

Construction was underway to add a bubble over the outdoor courts turning them into year-round indoor courts at the Osten and Victor Alberta Tennis Centre in Calgary on Friday, June 3, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY