You’ll be able to add the Blue-Grey tennis event to the record of endangered sporting occasions contemplating a relocation due to getting old sports activities venues within the Capital Metropolis.
The seventy fifth Blue-Grey Nationwide Collegiate Tennis Traditional has been a staple in collegiate tennis tournaments during the last 40 years, nationally acknowledged due to its distinctive hospitality format that locations competing tennis gamers within the houses of native households. However the ongoing wrestle by town to maintain its amenities up to date — together with points regarding using O’Connor Tennis Heart — has event organizers contemplating a transfer to a different metropolis.
Blue-Grey president Kimberly Mathews stated town’s employees cuts, coupled with the amenities, have made it tough to proceed holding the South’s oldest collegiate tennis event at Lagoon Park Tennis Heart and O’Connor Tennis Heart.
“We needed to spend cash that we raised to have the loos cleaned and to complement the loos there with extra loos,” she stated. “And we needed to pay to have the courts stress washed.”
The event moved to Lagoon Park within the Seventies when the ability was new, however the metropolis hasn’t spent a lot cash of late on something within the park, leaving its softball complicated outdated, its golf course in unhealthy form and its tennis facility in want of upkeep.
“If we don’t get town to spend some cash on Lagoon, they’re not going to need to come again there,” Mathews stated pf Blue-Grey individuals. “We’ve obtained courts that must be resurfaced. Nothing has been accomplished in two years. The amenities look the identical as they did 15 years in the past and Wetumpka’s obtained a brand new facility, Prattville’s getting new courts, Millbrook has a brand new facility and so they’re all nicer courts than we will provide at Lagoon so we could also be pressured in some unspecified time in the future to maneuver our event.”
The event will return to Lagoon Park in 2024, she emphasised, however the comfort matches which were held at O’Connor the previous couple of years shall be transferring to Auburn College Montgomery after the atmosphere at O’Connor on Saturday nights has been punctuated by gunfire within the neighborhood.
“We won’t be utilizing O’Connor any extra,” Mathews stated. “We’re going to play the matches at AUM. They’ve obtained eight courts which have new lights and have been resurfaced, so we’ll play at Lagoon and we’ll play at AUM.”
After 2024, Mathews famous, the Blue-Grey committee is “taking a look at all of our choices.” These choices embrace transferring to neighboring cities within the River Area or to Auburn, the place the Yarbrough Tennis Heart presents six indoor courts at its 34-court facility, a facility that has been utilized by Blue-Grey officers on a number of events throughout inclement climate, most not too long ago in 2021.
“We hate to depart Montgomery however having an indoor choice (in Auburn) is actually, actually wanted,” Mathews stated. “And after we transfer cities, we now have to have a look at different sponsors as a result of our sponsors that helped us elevate $91,000 assist us as a result of the event is in Montgomery. We’ve got households which have hosted (gamers from collaborating groups) for 25 years and also you’ll have to start out once more with households.
“And once you go to Auburn this time of 12 months, you’re competing with males’s and girls’s basketball, with baseball, with softball. However we’re taking a look at a number of completely different choices.”
The event has to cope with modifications to the Southeastern Convention panorama as nicely. Alabama and Auburn are annual Blue-Grey individuals and make significant contributions to the event, with Auburn profitable the boys’s division and Alabama profitable the comfort girls’s finals in 2023. Each shall be unable to take part underneath the present format when Oklahoma and Texas be part of the Southeastern Convention and alter the long run convention schedule.
“We’re additionally taking a look at having to maneuver the event to the autumn and being an ITA-sanctioned occasion,” Mathews stated, “as a result of when Oklahoma and Texas come into the league, the convention will begin its schedule one week earlier and that leaves no time for Blue-Grey for SEC colleges.”
In any case, the way forward for the Blue-Grey, in addition to Alabama Excessive College Athletic Affiliation part tournaments, may hinge on upgrading the amenities or establishing new ones. 5 years in the past, then-mayor Todd Unusual stated the thought of establishing a brand new tennis complicated adjoining to AUM “can be the primary selection” as soon as a brand new administration at AUM adjusted to their new positions.
5 years later, it’s unclear whether or not present mayor Steven Reed has any appreciation or plan for updating the amenities. Mathews stated event officers proceed to carry out hope that one thing will be accomplished to maintain the occasion within the Capital Metropolis.
“We’re not there but,” she stated. “We’re making yet another push at this administration.”