UPDATE: Tennis Center set for summer demolition

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The Indianapolis Tennis Center on the campus of IUPUI will be demolished this summer, before and after its official closing on Aug. 5, university officials confirmed Friday afternoon.

IBJ reported Friday morning that IUPUI was set to announce the demolition, which will bring an end to the former home of the Indianapolis Tennis Championships.

The decision to demolish the tennis center—including the 10,000-seat center-court stadium, the indoor tennis courts and the outdoor tennis courts—stems from the intersection of several events, including the expansion of the NCAA headquarters in White River State Park, IUPUI officials said in a news release.
Those events have created an opportunity for IUPUI to redesign the area of campus that is home to the tennis center on the school’s east edge as well as the Natatorium, the Carroll Track and Soccer Stadium, the Herron School of Art and Design, and the National Institute for Fitness and Sports, the release said.

The IU Board of Trustees recently approved the expansion of the IUPUI sports complex garage directly to the south of the existing garage where part of the tennis complex now resides. A garage with an estimated 1,300 spaces is projected to break ground this winter.

What is not clear is what will happen to the roughly 900 dues-paying members of the Indianapolis Tennis Center or the U.S. Tennis Association’s regional junior training center, which is housed there.

USTA officials, when contacted Friday, were unaware of IUPUI’s plans to demolish the tennis center this summer.

The timing of the closing of the tennis center will enable summer programs to be completed, IUPUI officials said. The tennis stadium is expected to come down this summer and the indoor tennis courts after Aug. 5, it said.
While IUPUI officials said they are interested and supportive of a relocation plan for the tennis center, they said the school can neither acquire new land nor commit to new construction expenses.

Larry McIntyre, IU’s director of media relations, confirmed Friday morning that he and Tom Morrison, Indiana University’s vice president of capital projects, arrived in Indianapolis on Friday afternoon to discuss the project and make a formal announcement.

In December 2008, IUPUI unveiled a 20-year master plan that called for demolishing the tennis center on the campus’ eastern edge to make room for a performing arts center and another building that would house a 6,000-seat convocation center and basketball arena.

School officials said those plans remain intact but it is unclear when construction of the new facilities would begin.

Sources close to the university said Friday that the new facilities will be available for a number of NCAA championship events such as wrestling, volleyball and other NCAA functions. The NCAA also could get use of the parking facilities, sources said.

The NCAA began work on a $35 million, 130,000-square-foot addition to its headquarters in White River State Park adjacent to the tennis center this spring to accommodate the organization’s growth. But the NCAA may need even more room to grow, sources said.

“Given this city’s relationship with the NCAA, that would be a fabulous use of the facility,” said David Morton, president of Sunrise Sports Group, a local sports marketing firm. “As far as I know, it would be a first-of-its-kind relationship.”

But Morton questioned where IUPUI would come up with the estimated $50 million to $75 million needed to construct a facility that would meet the university’s and NCAA’s needs.

“Just because you take something down doesn’t mean you have the resources to put something else up,” Morton said. “IUPUI has two premier sports facilities in their track and field stadium and Natatorium, and they have always had difficulty finding funds to maintain them. So you have to ask, 'How will they financially deal with a new facility?'”

A capital campaign would likely be needed and the NCAA could potentially contribute to the project.

IUPUI’s master plan also called for demolishing Carroll Track & Field Stadium, but officials within the school’s athletics department said that plan has been put on hold because adding track to the school’s sports roster is being contemplated. School officials have also discussed demolishing the stadium, but leaving the track and multi-purpose infield in place.

When it was constructed in 1979, the Indianapolis Tennis Center was one of the pillars of Indianapolis' push to make itself a sports capital. The tournament was a hotbed of corporate hospitality for many years. Attendance often reached 100,000 for the weeklong event. It hosted the ATP Tour tournament formerly knows as the RCA Championships for three decades.

Following the 2009 tournament, which later became the Indianapolis Tennis Championships, folded due to financial difficulties. The event was moved by the ATP Tour to Atlanta. With the loss of the tournament, IUPUI officials said they could not longer afford to maintain the facility.

Still, it won’t be easy for tennis fans to say goodbye to the venue that hosted the tournament, which traces its roots back to the Woodstock Country Club in 1920. The realization has hit home, tennis sources said, that high-profile professional tennis has likely disappeared from Indianapolis for the long term.

“It’s really sad,” said Robert Vane, Mayor Greg Ballard’s press secretary. “That was such a great event for a lot of years for this city.”

From the 1980s up to 2001, the tournament was voted the top ATP Tour event by the players a record-setting 11 times. But as the ATP tweaked its schedule and promoted a summer tournament in Cincinnati, the local tournament began to slide in prestige.


  • NCAA Bloat
    The NCAA is only interested in growing their organization and adding to their ranks as they enjoy their 35 hour weeks and vacation laden schedules. Mix in the political correctness and constant pandering and you have the domestic equivalent of a UN. At any time they could be inspired and really start to be activists for sports and breath some life into sports in their own new back yard as many expected, but don't hold your breath.
  • IUPUI Athletic Probation
    The Tournament has been terrible for quite a few years. Not being part of the ATP Super 9 Series killed it. Indianapolis has knowledgeable tennis fans that dont want to come watch a bunch of hacks and a couple wussies trying to make "easy money" when they can wait a week and make the short drive to Cincy to watch the worlds best at a beautiful facility. The Indoor Tennis Center will be missed, but the tournament had become a joke.
    Building another Basketball Facility is absurd especially since they were just put on Athletic Probation this year because of Basketball and Volleyball violations. Seems like the NCAA cant keep a school in their backyard in line. Thats somewhat embarassing. Then there are the poor IUPUI tennis teams; first you cant advance to any chamionships because of athletic violations, and now you have no courts indoor or out. Shame, shame.
  • What?
    IUPUI "can't fill the one they have?" you have no clue what you're talking about. IUPUI is a Division I school with a 1215 seat basketball arena. Generally the gym reaches the maximum capacity of "1215" and goes beyond that. Susan you have no clue what you're talking about. The Jaguars are in desperate need of a new facility. Your reasoning is a joke...
  • Susan
    I thought with the NCAA here they would inspire more and different sport facilties, not less. Ice skating, soon to be gone and now tennis. How are we to ever keep these new hotel's filled if we can't keep national sporting events? IUPUI needs a basketball court? Can't fill the one they have. Maybe they should pay Conseco Fieldhouse to use their facilities.
  • Good Times
    Some good memories at the Tennis Center - and one bad embarrasing one, but I won't go there. While the memories are good, the Tennis Center's prime time has faded. Time to move on. It will be missed.
  • Make$ No $en$e
    WHY? The Natatorium, Track Stadium, and University Hotel all LOSE money. The Indoor Tennis Center is the only athletic building that MAKES money. In this economy, you are going to cut something that MAKES money.

    Troubling, IUPUI. Very troubling.
  • Does the University Understand?
    I hope the University understands the importance of having another facility that fosters a lifetime sport on the campus. The USTA Player Development Headquarters believed in the staff and it will be vital to have another facility to continue the great work that has been created there.
  • Sad story
    Too bad. Te place was the vision of guys like Chuck Devoe, who owned the Pacers during the ABA days, as well as a championship tennis player in his own right, and Stan Malless, a man of many successes. Chuck's son Mike and I helped put the finishing touches on the place before it opened and volunteered there during the US Open Clay Court Championships. There were great names there that first year -- like Connors, McEnroe, Evert and Navratilova. I guess all good thing must come to an end.
  • Indoor Tennis Facility
    You would think that the trustees would allow the indoor facility to stay. It's tucked away, requiring little over-all space.
    Where will the NCAA executive hackers practice their backhands when it's -3 degrees outside during an Indiana winter ?
  • What about tennis center members?
    What will happen to the 900 members of the Indianapolis Tennis Center? This facility is also a regional training center for the USTA juniors program. What happens to that? Sad to see this university and city turn its back on tennis.
  • World-class facilities?
    Can someone explain how the track stadium and Natatorium are still considered world-class? Seriously, go walk around them. The structures are crumbling - the Nat leaks throughout the winter due to poor ventilation, and the stands at Carroll are in poor shape.

    Both of these facilities need major renovating in order to return to "world-class" status.

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