SF Tennis Association, city partnering for changes at Tomar Park

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Tomar Park may soon be home to more forehand and backhand tennis swings. 

The Sioux Falls Tennis Association is in the process of raising $2.5 million in donated funds to expand the existing two tennis courts to 12 courts at the south-central city park, located just southeast of Minnesota Ave. and Interstate 229.  According to the organization’s fundraising website, more than $1.5 million has been raised for the expansion. Part of the expansion includes more parking as well as replacing the current basketball and sand volleyball courts.   

“I think we finally found the perfect location for it,” SFTA Executive Director Lydia Healy said. “It’ll be free to the public, no membership required.”

Healy said tennis tournaments bring in about $1.5 million in revenue right now but that number would increase with a 12-court complex.

“We could easily double our revenue coming into our city with this facility,” said Healy, noting the SFTA hosts the South Dakota Open, which brings more than 400 players to the city. 

Once built, the new tennis complex would allow Sioux Falls to host larger regional tournaments, including the boys and girls South Dakota High School Activities Association state tournaments, while still being open and free for public use during the year.

Sioux Falls Parks and Rec Director Don Kearney said the SFTA first approached the city parks department about the 12-court proposal a couple of years ago. He said after exploring ideas, a plan “that works for everybody” was developed. 

“We just love private-public partnerships that’s for sure,” said Kearney, who added the park board also approved of the project. “The heavy lifting is coming from the tennis association to raise the money. I think they are making good progress.” 

McKennan Park is home to eight tennis courts, but attempts to add more tennis courts will be denied by the neighborhood homeowners association, Healy said. 

After the tennis court expansion project, the city of Sioux Falls has a Phase 2 plan for Tomar Park that correlates with the current voluntary home buy-out program for the Rose-Lotta neighborhood, which suffered damaging home flooding from the Big Sioux River in 2019.

“This will be a nice shot in the arm for the neighborhood,” Kearney said. “It’ll continue to be a multi-purpose park. This will be a nice addition.” 

The home buy-out plan is in place until 2029, which affects the timing of the Phase 2 park improvements as the land purchased would be redeveloped for park expansion. 

You can compare Phase 1 and Phase 2 developments at Tomar Park in renderings below. 

The photo on the left is Phase 1 of the Tomar Park Master Plan, while the photo on the right is Phase 2. Renderings from the city of Sioux Falls.

Kearney said the first step will be getting Phase 1 finished. He added Phase 2 could be part of a 10- to 15-year plan. 

“The buyouts in the Tomar Park neighborhood are going to take a lot of time,” Kearney said. “It’s a voluntary thing, so we’re not forcing people out of their homes. It’s only if they want to sell it to us so that’ll take some time.” 

Kearney highlighted the new courts will be available for public use when not being used for leagues or tournaments. He said the location of the courts in the center of town, just off the interstate, should help make for successful tournaments. 

“That’ll be a great economic incentive for our community as well,” Kearney said. “As we do with a lot of these sports associations, we work with them on these public-private partnerships and we really feel like that’s a great model to work with as we go about building out our park system.”

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