Source: Altoona Mirror
By David Hurst
EBENSBURG — The borough will tag team with World Wrestling Entertainment’s well-known founder to build a $2.3 million indoor tennis facility.
Vince McMahon — WWE head honcho and a sometimes wrestler — is footing the bill for the six-court project and turning it over to the borough to operate, his mother, Ebensburg’s Vicky Askew, said Monday.
It’s a gift to Askew and her hometown. And if all goes well, the project could be on a fast track for completion by early next year.
“We’re grateful this is moving forward. This is going to be great for this community as well as surrounding ones,” said Askew, 86, an avid tennis player who believes the center will bring visitors up the mountain.
“With the YPCC [Young People’s Community Center], Memorial Field, our playgrounds and the hockey rink, the addition of this center will make Ebensburg a recreation mecca,” said Ebensburg Recreation Director Matt Pfeil, who eventually will oversee day-to-day operations of the tennis facility.
The borough, which gave tentative approval Monday, won’t be involved in the construction, and no public funds will be used. McMahon’s family foundation will pay for it. L. Robert Kimball Engineering will design it, and the YPCC Committee, a borough recreational nonprofit, will oversee construction.
The facility will have three indoor and three outdoor courts, as well as an office, pro shop, lockers and a lobby.
It will be constructed on a borough-owned tract of land next to Lake Rowena. It will be on the opposite side of the lake from the hockey rink planned for construction this summer. Survey work and testing has begun to finalize the exact location, and Kimball Vice President Csaba Balazs, a project architect, said plans are to start construction as soon as possible — and hopefully be working under a roof before winter.
Borough Manager Dan Penatzer said the borough has been working with the Askews on finalizing a project for nearly a year. Ebensburg officials — particularly Borough Mayor Charlie Moyer — seemed somewhat hesitant to move forward with such a major project so quickly.
It’s not everyday a project is fully funded by a donor, constructed on borough land and then simply turned over to the borough, and it begs legal questions, Moyer said. In the end, council endorsed the project unanimously — as long as Ebensburg’s solicitor does a little more homework to approve it.
“This is certainly an unusual situation. There’s no precedence here,” Solicitor Heath Long said, admitting that the topic has been passed on to other local solicitors to review. “This looks like it can be done, but we’re going to make certain.”
Operation costs are the other issue.
A tennis pro, other staffers and extensive marketing will be needed, but even with a potential annual operating cost of more than $237,000 annually, the borough should be able to make it work, Penatzer said, outlining a conservative budget outlook.
“We have a lot planning yet to do,” Councilman Terry Illig said. “But I think this is great for the community. If we run it right, we can do quite a bit with a site like this.”