Two domes covering InnerCity Tennis at Martin Luther King Park are slated for replacement this summer.
“Our domes are aging; they are 20 years old,” Executive Director Samantha Smart Merritt told the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. “We need desperately to replace them as they have fallen in the facility with heavy snows.”
She said the replacement will allow the structure to increase energy efficiency.
“Now it’s very cold in winter, and very hot in summer,” she said.
Staff considered installing a single dome to cover all 11 indoor courts, but decided the large size of such a dome would not be very neighborly.
A second phase of the $2.2 million project would add a weight room; renovate the adjacent building’s lobby, offices and locker rooms; and build a “21st century classroom.” Contractors would remove the existing glass block windows (originally installed as an anti-vandalism measure) and replace them with clear glass windows.
The courts were originally built for open-air tennis in 1955, and they were domed over in 1995 by the previous owner.
Throughout the school year, InnerCity Tennis opens its doors for free every Saturday afternoon, attracting 325 kids on average. During the summer, instructors teach six-week $75 tennis lessons at 23 Minneapolis parks, and offer full scholarships to any family, no questions asked. A new free Academic Creative Engagement Program, focused on literacy, math and wellness, will also take place at MLK Park this summer.
The domes are open seven days a week, 16 hours a day.
“We reach about 4,000 kids each year,” Smart Merritt said. “Literally more than 1,000 seniors are playing here all the time. … We have players as young as 3, and our oldest player just turned 94.”
A Citizen Advisory Committee is reviewing the proposed renovation plan this spring.
Dome replacement is anticipated in August.