There are plenty of sports that require little more than a reasonably level patch of ground and a ball, but tennis isn't exactly one of them. You need a court, you need a net, and now thanks to the city, you need a fuck of a lot of money if you're going to be playing on its property—an amount that many New Yorkers aren't willing to pay.
According to a recently released report from the city's Independent Budget Office, the Bloomberg administration in 2010 announced it would—once again—raise the price of sports facilities—fees for city tennis courts, memberships at city-run recreation centers and permits for using city ball fields—in order to generate an additional $6.3 million in revenue. Between 2003 and 2011, the fee for adult seasonal permits quadrupled, shooting from $50 to $200.
Though the city still managed to raise more than a million dollars from the increased fees, it fell short of its goal, and moreover, membership plummeted by 43 percent—from 12,774 in 2010 to 7,265 in 2012—since the rates for adults increased.
"The failure to achieve the expected revenue gains was the result of a greater-than-projected fall-off in the number of permits sold for tennis and memberships for recreation centers following the price rise," Budget Office's report states.
Parks Department spokesperson Philip Abramson countered in a statement that prior to 2011, the fee had not increased since 2003, and the city has no plans to raise them again. He wrote also that the fee is "still far below those paid by New Yorkers who belong to private gyms or use private facilities."
But many communities are frustrated that despite the high price tag, many courts around the city still aren't being properly maintained.
"Doubling the Tennis Permit fees adds insult to injury to the city's tennis players," Robert Holden, President of the Juniper Park Civic Association told the blog "A Walk in the Park."
"In Juniper Valley Park the tennis courts are sinking and flood regularly. The courts are mostly empty now...who would want to pay a $200 fee to play on these courts? The USTA keeps making money taking more and more of Queens parkland while the public courts nearby are dilapidated. Something is very wrong with this picture. "