Palm Coast - The City of Palm Coast City Council is considering plans to build a Regional Racquet Center at the site of the Palm Coast Tennis Center.

Located at 1290 Belle Terre Pkwy, the existing Tennis Center opened for public play in November 2007, with 10 lighted HydroGrid clay courts and what was intended to be a temporary Welcome Center. Open play, league tournaments, lessons and summer camps have remained popular for 13 years.

More recently, a growing numbers of residents have been engaging in the trending game of pickleball. Parks & Recreation set up temporary courts at Holland Park and Belle Terre Parks. Hundreds of dedicated pickleball players have given the City input expressing the desire for more permanent options in the community.

To best meet the needs and recommendations from not only tennis and pickleball players, but also from families who are looking for newer outdoor recreation alternatives, City Council is reviewing the proposed architectural, approval and construction plans of the new center.

The location for the Regional Racquet Center would include several high-quality, dedicated pickleball courts constructed alongside the current 10 clay tennis courts. Plans for the state-of-the-art facility would include locker rooms, showers and common areas. Additional parking is planned along the Lehigh Trailhead on Belle Terre Parkway spreading eastward towards the new center.

The proposed Regional Racquet Center is one of several additional Community Centers that could be coming to Palm Coast, targeting the 2008 Parks & Recreation Master Plan goal of having a Community Center in each sector of the City (North, Central, South and East).

"The growing number of tennis and pickleball players throughout Palm Coast makes this proposal especially attractive," said Parks & Recreation Director Lauren Johnston. "Having one central racquet facility will encourage our tennis and pickleball players to crossover from one sport to the other, helping to grow our residents' love for each game."

The increased opportunities for instruction, games and tournaments would boost participation from residents and generate additional passholder interest, all adding to the local economy.

The Palm Coast Tennis Center has been the location for the United States Tennis Association's Palm Coast Open for the past 10 years, which would see a huge boost from the Regional Racquet Center. Hundreds of up-and-coming international players descend on the Palm Coast Tennis Center each year for this event, producing some of the greatest sporting moments in Palm Coast's storied history.

The Regional Racquet Center would attract even larger, more lucrative USTA events, boosting Palm Coast's local economy by filling restaurants and hotels with visitors.

The rich legacy of tennis in Palm Coast would grow with the construction of this new center. Years ago, Tom Gullikson, famed coach of the legendary Pete Sampras, moved to Palm Coast, placing it on the map in the tennis world. Palm Coast's tennis fame flourished when a young Reilly Opelka honed his craft at the Palm Coast Tennis Center in the 2010s before soaring into the top 30 ranked professional tennis players in the world this past year. Opelka gave back to his stomping grounds this year as the headlining sponsor for the 2020 Palm Coast Open.

Local groups hope the Regional Racquet Center would elevate pickleball as a new sports tradition in Palm Coast. Its popularity in Palm Coast continues to grow as a paddle sport that is described as "part badminton, part ping pong and part tennis." Presently, hundreds of players come to play in the parks, often packing the courts. To support this community interest, the Parks & Recreation Department offers beginner lessons every Tuesday and Friday, 8:00 to 10:30 a.m. at Holland Park.

The Regional Racquet Center, if approved, would be constructed in phases, with funds already available to City Council, combining a capital projects fund, park impact fees and sales tax dollars obtained from the City's Be Local Buy Local initiative. As residents and travelers shop in Palm Coast businesses, restaurants or fill up their gas, a portion of their sales tax revenues revert right back into our City to fund projects like the proposed center. The City of Palm Coast Finance Department calculates that for every $100 spent in Palm Coast, $68 is returned to the local economy.

With so many residents looking for healthier ways to spend quality time together right here in Palm Coast, the creation of a Regional Racquet Center would offer expanded options for exercising and socializing.

Palm Coast Parks & Recreation Director Lauren Johnston presented the proposal at the Oct. 13 City Council Workshop Meeting. The presentation can be viewed here: https://www.palmcoastgov.com/fileshare/sent/6f38fb48-2eec-4ce2-b82d-ff778283eab9