City tennis permits drop as cost doubles

City tennis permits drop as cost doubles
Photo by Caroll Alvarado
By Shawn King

After the conclusion of the US Open two weeks ago, interest in tennis is at its peak in New York City and especially in Queens, within the shadow of the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center, where the tournament took place.

Those who wish to take up the sport themselves, however, may want to think twice since it is going to cost more than ever before.

Queens is home to more than 200 public tennis courts, but the city requires a city tennis permit for reservations and use of the courts, and the fee for the permit has been doubled to $200 for a seasonal pass.

The increase in the price of the permit, originally intended to bring in additional revenue, has done just the opposite. The city saw the number of tennis permits purchased in 2012 drop more than 5,000 from 2010, the year prior to the 2011 increase, according to the Independent Budget Office.

The drop has cost the city more than $5 million in revenue from the projected $6.3 million it had expected to make off the permit increase. There has been no mention of any plans to change the current fee for the tennis courts.

“We have gotten more single complaints about the tennis fee increases than almost any other issue,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates and a tennis player.

Tennis players are most likely looking at alternatives to using city-owned courts.

Queens College offers memberships to its private tennis complex for slightly more that the price of the city seasonal permit. The Queens College Tennis Center is home to more than a dozen indoor courts, which makes it more beneficial to those who want to play through the winter months.

Others have simply resorted to sneaking on to city courts when no one is around.

“These courts were built with public dollars and they should be free or close to free,” Croft said. “What’s happening is people are either not playing or they are sneaking onto the courts.”

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