Feature Article - January 2010
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Extended Access

Is an Enclosure the Right Option to Add Seasons to Your Facility?

By Jessica Royer Ocken

What's not to like? Add a cover to your pool or tennis court and you instantly beat the cold, rain or wind for recreation on any occasion. However, while enclosing a facility offers a lot of benefits, it's not always quite as simple as popping a top on the ice rink or soccer field you already have. We've analyzed your options and spoken to several who have taken the plunge themselves. Read on to get started gathering the info you need to determine if an enclosure is right for your recreation venue.

The Benefits

Yes, there are a number of fairly obvious benefits to enclosing a sports or aquatic facility. This allows you to extend seasons or make your venue an all-year destination, with no worries about the weather. But this is really just the beginning. Take things a step further and enclosures may offer even more enhancements than you realize:

Additional Programming Opportunities: Even with year-round access, you'll likely still have a busy season and a slower season, but you'll always have lots more time to fill with activities. Lessons and training seminars can fill off-season hours, and you could partner with a local school or sports league to provide space for their practices and games.

In Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, the Lava Hot Springs Foundation recently garnered the funding they'd long been seeking to enclose a pool at their Olympic Swimming Complex. They now offer a year-round indoor aquatic center with a climbing wall. Many of their clientele are tourists, but "we offer swim lessons throughout the winter months, and aerobics and fitness swimming all year round, whereas it was seasonal before," said Mark Lowe, executive director of the Lava Hot Springs Foundation.

"Definitely our biggest money maker now is lessons," said Matt Pfeil, director of recreation for the borough of Ebensburg, Penn., where the Ebensburg Tennis Center—an indoor/outdoor facility—is located. "Tennis an outdoor sport, but people like to keep their game in tune in the winter, so that's a big part of the off-season." Having indoor courts also allows the center to offer lessons for younger budding tennis stars. "We have a 3-to-5-year-olds program that we can't do outside," he said. "But get them in early, and tennis is a sport they can do the rest of their lives."