Golden Gate Park

Tennis Courts to Get Makeover

Golden Gate Park Facilities to Get Lighting, Price Increase

by Thomas K. Pendergast


Plans for constructing a new tennis court complex and clubhouse in Golden Gate Park

are moving forward, with fundraising efforts approaching the estimated amount needed

and construction expected to start sometime early next year.


A rendition of a proposal to redo the tennis courts and
clubhouse in Golden Gate Park.

The project would also include a new pickleball court, lighting for night-time play, new

landscaping with patios and gardens, and bleachers located next to sunken courts.


At a meeting at the SF County Fair Building on Jan. 10, Martha Ehrenfeld, co-chair of

Tennis Coalition San Francisco, told a crowd of more than 100 people that they are about

80 percent along on the way toward a fundraising goal of $26.3 million, yet they still

need to raise at least $6 million more.

TennisGGP01 copy

 A plan to redo the tennis courts at Golden Gate Park was presented
to the public on Jan. 10. Photo: Thomas K. Pendergast

She said they are now starting to create construction documents and are hoping to break

ground in early 2019.


“This dream has been in the air for more than a decade and we stand on the shoulders,

all of us do, of those who planted these seeds. But, amazingly, we are now approaching

the finish line. We’re talking about groundbreaking a year from now,” said Lois

Salisbury, another co-chair of the Tennis Coalition San Francisco.


“We visited and were inspired by large urban tennis centers in Denver, Sunnyvale and

the Bronx. We saw there was something that really captured our imaginations because

we saw robust facilities with a wide diversity of tennis activities, the range and depth of

which cannot be achieved in a neighborhood facility, nor would be affordable to most of

us unless it was through a private club, which we can not, a lot of us, access.


“In addition to all of that, they were sustainable models. They were models that had built

into them the finances to make sure that once you build a facility like this you can really

maintain it.”


Currently, the courts close at night but with the addition of lighting organizers are

hoping to add about 25,000 hours of playing time per year. The new proposed hours will

be from 6:30 a.m. until 10 p.m.


The new clubhouse will be larger than the current one, and will include offices, pantry

storage area, a new “tennis learning center,” classroom space and recreation room space

with a ping pong table and players’ lounge, where players can gather and socialize,

possibly while looking through a large glass wall.


To help pay for the new facilities, fees to play tennis will be going up.


Salisbury said the current fees have not been raised in 20 years. Dana Murphy Ketcham,

director of property management permits and reservations for the SF Recreation and

Park Department, gave a breakdown of the proposed fees compared to those currently in

place. She also noted that the new fees must be approved by the SF Recreation and Park



The current weekday fee of $4 for 90 minutes will go up to $10 per hour for residents

and $12 per hour for non-residents. Weekends are currently $6 for 90 minutes of play

but those will also go up to $10 an hour for residents and $12 for non-residents.


“We kept those fees the same because we want to kind of push non-seniors into those

other times and encourage them to leave the weekday prime time that the seniors like,”

said Salisbury. Fees for seniors will be raised from $2 for 90 minutes to $4 per hour for

residents and $6 per hour for non-residents. There will continue to be no fees for youth.


The senior rates and free play for youths will only apply on weekdays before 5 p.m.

Fees for United States Tennis Association matches, which are amateur competitions, will

go from the current $15 for 90 minutes to $18 per hour.


“Upon reopening we will be updating (prices) to reflect current pricing and the

improvements of the center,” Ketcham said. “We compared extensively to other public

facilities and we are in the low end of the range.” Ketcham said the new plan

will also allow for bookings “on the half hour, so you can actually book closer to the time

you need for what you’re going to do. We are creating non-resident fees. We think that

with these courts being modified there may be higher demand and we want to

give our residents the best possible deal.”


Operation of the tennis complex will be contracted out to an independent, professional

“facility operator.” Court rental money will go into a reserve fund for

maintenance and repairs.


The Rec. and Park Department will offer a five-year lease for the operator, with a

three-year renewal option if both sides agree. The operator does not getto set fees

for the site.

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