Club Update: Court Renewal Fund & Membership Fee Structure
For the 2020 season, the current Board of Directors sees the pressing need for court renewal as the key issue of importance to the Elmdale Tennis Club. The issue has a direct impact on how the Club’s tennis program operates, and how we manage our resources, including membership fees, in the best interests of the Club membership.
We want to ensure the best tennis experience for our members and campers. The state of the clay courts is an essential ingredient in achieving this goal and their maintenance and upkeep are central to the long-term viability and reputation of the Club.
The Club’s clay courts are well past the date for renewal. Current estimates place the cost of court renewal alone at approximately $300,000. In addition, the watering system requires replacement/upgrade. As a result, current estimates for complete renewal of the courts is estimated at around $400,000.
In 2019, the Board put aside $50,000 and the 2020 Board has set a goal of putting aside $35,000 in a Reserve Fund. Even optimistic projections suggest that the Club’s courts will not be renewed for approximately four to five years.
The Club has limited avenues for revenue generation: as a not for profit organization, the Club may not seek a loan. The City of Ottawa, owner of the tennis facility, has very limited resources to support club maintenance and upgrades.
At present we see three avenues for revenue generation for ongoing club operations and for contributions to the Reserve Fund for court renewal: grants; contributions from the neighbourhood business community; and, membership and camp enrollment.
- Grants. The Board of Directors has developed a grant proposal under the Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure, Community, Culture and Recreation stream. We are awaiting word on acceptance. Given competition for limited funding across the province, we are only moderately hopeful that the grant proposal will provide funding to Elmdale for our court renewal project.
- Business Community Engagement. Under the leadership of Board member Joel Diener, we hope to engage local businesses in advertising and banner opportunities which will generate new revenues for the Club. The Board intends to direct any new revenues from this venture to the Reserve Fund.
- Membership and Camp Enrolment. Revenues from membership and camp enrolment remain our largest sources of funds.
Our rates for camps are consistent with similar programs at other clubs in the city and we recognize that it is important to our members to limit the size of camps and their court usage through July and August. Thus, we believe we have maximized revenue from this source.
The better part of Club revenues come from membership fees. The Board considers membership levels and categories on an annual basis. We gather information on the fee structures of similar clubs and consider our own demographics in making decisions on the annual membership fee structure and categories.
Given the popularity of Elmdale, the total membership count has been capped at approximately 400. The original decision to cap membership took place in 2015 and remains in place. Since 2015, the proportion of members at age 60 and over has risen each year. Given the preference to returning members to register first, and the membership cap, we forecast the number of members over 60 to continue to rise each year. In a fee structure that includes a reduced rate for seniors, the Club’s main source of revenue will diminish steadily over time.
We know from looking at other tennis clubs’ fee structures that not all clubs include a category for seniors. Looking at the other clay court clubs, three do not have a category for seniors; while two others do but they start at 65.
The decision to drop the senior category was not an easy one. We understand and sympathize with the membership’s desire to continue to support our older members with a fee reduction. That said, as a Board, we also see the need to ensure an overall fair approach to membership fees, to sustain the revenue stream from membership, and attain our medium term goal of court renewal, in the interests of all members.