ROSWELL, Ga. - Roswell could soon be home to the largest clay court tennis facility in the country.
The proposed Angela Krause Tennis, Pickleball and Fitness Center at Roswell’s Big Creek Park will feature more than 135 tennis courts, including 80 clay courts and an indoor facility. The project will cost up to $50 million.
Car dealership owner, Vernon Krause, is in talks with the city to build the facility and donate it to the city.
“It started out an idea for a small facility that would serve underprivileged and special needs children, and it grew after a meeting with the city of Roswell,” Krause told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik.
He said the center will be named after his daughter, Angela, an avid tennis player who died from a rare form of cancer a few years ago.
“She was just a very special child,” he said. “My wife and our remaining children wanted to do something special in her memory and to keep her legacy alive.”
While Krause will pay to build the facility, slated to go on 60 acres in Big Creek Park off Old Alabama Road, tennis academy owner Danny Carlson will run it.
“Atlanta is considered the tennis capitol of the United States,” said Carlson. “We’re planning to have 80 clay courts. It’ll be some red, some green. They’ll have hard courts. Indoor courts, and a few grass courts.”
Carlson said the facility will host amateur tournaments that could draw people from across the country and beyond.
Roswell Mayor Lori Henry said when Krause approached the city about the proposal, she jumped at the idea.
“Big Creek was never meant to be a passive park. However, we just hadn’t had the resources to build on it. So, now we do,” she said. “The entire facility will be available to Roswell residents at the rates we charge for other facilities in town. So, it’s a win-win for Roswell.”
Henry told Petchenik the facility will lease the land from the city per terms of a memorandum of understanding the city council will consider next Monday.
“This is good for the city of Roswell and it’s good for the Krause family foundation,” she said.
City leaders say the yellow bouncing ball could give a bounce to the local economy as well.
“We know there’s a huge passion for tennis and we know it’ll be a huge driver,” said Steve Stroud, executive director of Roswell, Inc. the city’s economic development arm. “You’ll see more hotels, business class hotels, restaurants come with those hotels. We become truly a destination with a neighborhood.”
Stroud estimates the tournaments hosted at the facility could bring the city between $30 million and $50 million annually.
“Any time you can create a destination, an international destination that will bring tourists and visitors … it become an enormous factor,” he said.
The announcement did bring some dissent Thursday from the Roswell mountain biking community, which uses trails at Big Creek Park.
In a message posted on social media, some called for opposition to show up to Monday’s meeting.
“Does ATL really need yet another tennis complex?” one post reads. “Countless volunteer hours have been spent over the years to create Big Creek…shame to see another mindless destruction of an ‘alternative’ way of activity to make way for yet another stick and ball field/court.”
The president of the Barrington Farms HOA, which is adjacent to the park, posted this message to its members Thursday.
“This morning the HOA Board of Directors learned about a proposed project called the Angela Krause Tennis, Pickleball and Fitness Center to be built at Big Creek Park, which is adjacent to our neighborhood at the Greenway. At this time, the HOA does not support or endorse this project. While we appreciate the effort to improve East Roswell, we do not believe that these 60 acres are the appropriate space. We have concerns about the environmental impact, recreational impact, and effect on traffic, amongst other issues. There is a meeting on Monday, August 13th at 7:00 PM at City Hall where this particular project will be discussed. We ask all residents to attend if possible.”
The Atlanta area is considered the largest league tennis community in the country, and according to figures from the city of Roswell, some 75,000 active players live in a 10-mile radius of the city. The region is also home to the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association (ALTA), said to the largest city tennis organization in world.
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