A proposed tennis facility at the Winnipeg Canoe Club site could give the city’s pro tournament a new home and create more courts for the public to use.
Tennis Manitoba has put in a proposal to the City of Winnipeg for the construction of a tennis facility at the Canoe Club with eight outdoor courts – including a stadium court that seats about 1,000 – as well as locker rooms, washrooms and showers. City council will vote on proposals on how land at the Canoe Club will be repurposed, with a decision coming by June, 2018.
“The City will be welcoming proposals in the near future,” said Tennis Manitoba Executive Director Mark Arndt. “We just feel this is a nice fit.”
Competing ideas for the site include facilities for soccer, cricket and golf, which are all being considered. If the City selects Tennis Manitoba’s proposal, Arndt said he would like to see the facility ready for the spring of 2019.
Winnipeg City Councillor Brian Mayes (St. Vital) said the proposed tennis facility would be an ideal home for the National Bank Challenger pro tournament.
“Having been there to watch it, I’d like to see it stay in Winnipeg,” said Mayes.
The 2016 National Bank Challenger at Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club awarded $100,000 in prize money – $75,000 on the men’s side (which was upgraded to ATP Challenger status) and $25,000 on the women’s side.
“It’s a massive event for the city,” Arndt said. “That’s where Councillor Mayes stepped in and said, ‘listen, we need to find a permanent home for this event that’s growing bigger and bigger.’”
Last year’s National Bank Challenger singles champions were Japan’s Go Soeda (ranked No. 138 in the world) and Ohio’s Francesca Di Lorenzo (semifinalist in junior girls’ singles and doubles at the 2015 US Open).
“The economic spinoff from the tournament is around $800,000 for the city,” said Arndt.
Arndt said building courts at the Canoe Club site would serve a need in the area. He noted at least 14 courts have been removed in St. Vital over the years, including the 10 courts previously at the Canoe Club and the four courts at Dakota Collegiate that will soon no longer be there.
“St. Vital is lacking in tennis courts,” said Arndt, who noted the proposed facility would also be used for Tennis Manitoba tournaments and programming. “Councillor Mayes – thankfully we have an advocate, somebody who appreciates tennis and he sees the need for tennis in his ward.”
Mayes talked about the benefits of tennis in an interview about the proposed facility.
“It’s a great sport,” he said. “You can play it with your kids. It’s a good family exercise.”
Many will remember the Canoe Club as once home to a beautiful clay court tennis facility that hosted such marquee events as Davis Cup ties and the Pan Am Games.
“The Pan Am Games had been there in ’67,” Mayes said. “Arthur Ashe had played at the Canoe Club. It’s kind of recapturing that history.”
Mayes said a new tennis facility in Winnipeg would capitalize on the rise in popularity of tennis across the country, thanks in a big way to the emergence of such stars as Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard.
“This is the golden age (for tennis in Canada),” he said. “You got Davis Cup. You got Milos playing in Grand Slams. This is the time to do this if we’re ever going to do it.”
Below are drawings of the proposed facility.