COLUMBIA- The Columbia Parks and Recreation Commission is set to hear a report Thursday night about Cosmo-Bethel Park tennis court improvements.
Gabe Huffington, acting director of Columbia Parks and Recreation, said the department has budgeted money through the fiscal year 2023 capital improvement budget to update the control system for the lights that are on transformers one through four.
“Those are the original courts at the 12-court complex. And we need to upgrade that system,” Huffington said
The first change with the lighting is to fix the controls so that an individual who is playing tennis can walk over and push button to control the lighting.
“But then we will also put that on Musco’s controlling system, which allows us to program the lights to turn on via smartphone or computer,” Huffington said.
Huffington anticipates that the lighting improvements should be completed by spring 2023.
While not discussed at Thursday’s meeting, there are major long-term changes to courts one through four coming to Cosmo-Bethel Park.
Expected to be completed by 2028, improvements at the Cosmo-Bethel Park tennis complex will include the complete rebuild of tennis courts one through four, including the removal of existing courts and the installation of new post-tension concrete court surfacing and fencing.
That project is associated with the renewal of the city’s park sales tax last November.
The construction process is expected to begin between 2026 and 2027.
“…that’s when we’ll look at that bigger renovation project where we are going to take the asphalt courts out of play, remove those and look at post-tension concrete courts, which is a much longer lasting product. We don’ I don’t experience that cracking from the heat and the cold,” Huffington said.
Ben Loeb, the tennis coach for Rock Bridge High School, said he thinks courts one to four have shown a lot of wear and tear when it rains.
“So it holds a lot of water, they have a lot of discoloration in the courts,” he explained.
“After a rain, it can make it hazardous if there’s water coming up between cracks on the court. And just with a discoloration if you’ve had a rain, it can be a little slick for a while,” Loeb said. “So I think you know there’s some liability issues there. But more so just the playability of the courts. They’re just not what they were 22 years ago.”
Huffington said tennis players will have to wait a few more years for the new courts, but Loeb wishes it would be completed sooner.
“Columbia Parks and Rec only has so much money, but I think they have to move it up on their priority list if it’s not going to be until 2028, especially for courts one to four,” Loeb said.
The SEC Women’s Tennis Championship is also set to be hosted MU in 2028. When MU last hosted the tournament in 2014, the park’s tennis courts were needed for practices and warm-ups.
The goal is to have the new courts completed in 2028 in time for that tournament.
“I think that’s the conversation that we’ll have with MU Athletics,” Huffington said. “We will see if there is an interest again to use some of our court space.”
Huffington said the 2014 tournament needed the additional space.
“So we’ll have some conversations with them about the timeline when that tournament will take place and then as long as we can kind of get everything in order in terms of our bid and contractor,” Huffington said. “I think that would be a really great goal for us to be able to have those courts in use for that tournament.”
KOMU 8 News reached out to Mizzou Athletics for comment, but did not hear back.