Before winter sets in this year, the tennis courts at McCarren Park will be covered with a new bubble, which should be installed by October.
The new weather shield will cover the tennis courts and provide for year-round play in the park, but at a cost. There will be a fee to play in the bubble of $20 to $57, depending on the time of the day.
“The bubble will be installed by the concessionaire,” said Meghan Lalor, a representative of the Department of Parks and Recreation. “The capital commitment from the concessionaire is $160,000, and they will also be responsible for the maintenance of the courts while the bubble is up.”
In addition to the bubble, there will be a new pro shop and exterior lights that will enable night tennis, even when the bubble is not up during the warmer months.
Aside from having to pay for the court time, there are other disadvantages as well. Due to construction, tennis will be disrupted for two to four months in the summer, and that's not good news for players in the neighborhood who already bought a full-season pass from the Parks Department to play on city courts. An adult permits costs $200.
“It’s already spreading myself so thin, it’s not financially feasible,” said tennis player David Vailis last week. “I already pay 200 bucks.”
Kennath Barbina, also a frequent McCarren Park tennis player, agreed with Vailis.
“I’m against it because I don’t think everyone can afford to play,” he said.
While some players were weary about the additional cost, others are just happy they won’t have to play in the cold, or stop playing at all, including Barbina's wife, Emily.
“I’m for it because you get to play year round,” she said.