I would like to expand on Randy Kennedy’s column from the Aug. 8-14 edition (Behind the Mic, “Mobile needs a long-term plan for all of its sports venues”). My response to this article focuses on the sports venues, but I recognize sports are just a form of entertainment. All city-owned facilities need attention.
The author left off a critical athletic venue — the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center. How this facility and the numerous events it hosts each year was left off the list no longer surprises me, nor most other tennis enthusiasts in the area.
If you were onsite at the C-CTC during the USTA’s Junior National Level tournament on Tuesday, Aug. 7, during the afternoon lightning delay, you would better appreciate the need for an improved (aka larger) clubhouse to accommodate the hundreds of players, coaches and parents.
Is there a master plan for the Copeland-Cox Tennis Center? If so, has anyone seen it, let alone provided preliminary budget costs to implement it? If we do not focus on maintaining and improving our current facilities, we will slowly lose our advantages and other, newer facilities located in different cities will take over the hosting duties, which is a lose-lose proposition for all involved.
Is this not the argument the city is having as it relates to both major, recognizable sports venues — Ladd-Peebles and Hank Aaron stadiums? Where does this economically important and often overlooked venue fit into the conversation of sports venues? Where does the hotly debated soccer complex fit into the conversation? Where do baseball and softball fields fit into the conversation? What about basketball and volleyball facilities?
Where do the other 300-plus nonsports and entertainment venues the city owns fit into the conversation?
I have no problem setting up a committee to develop a plan as long as it doesn’t cost more taxpayer money. Kennedy’s list of 11 influential people that could assist in this plan MUST include a few females. (By the way, Title IX was implemented in 1972.) The potential list of committee members should also include a few younger persons that do not have lifetime memberships in AARP already!
Considering how long it has taken to figure out who is City Council president, the proposed members of the ad hoc “sports and entertainment master planning committee” won’t be alive to see any of the plan implemented, if a plan is even generated.
Let’s develop the plan for the physical venues and then worry about the management and operational aspects at a later date. Those aspects cannot be overlooked, but I expect they will (just like the broken sidewalks on my street).
Phillip A. DeKeyser