The Prince George's County Council unanimously approved plans yesterday for a $5.5 million tennis training center in College Park that will be built with private contributions and operated on about 12 acres of parkland.
The council voted 9 to 0 to grant Kenneth D. Brody, the former chairman of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, a 20-year lease to construct and operate one of the largest tennis complexes in the Washington region on land owned by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
The tennis center will feature 12 indoor and 15 outdoor courts, a running track and a clubhouse with a retail shop, lounge and classrooms. The facility will be privately operated but open to the public to use for a fee.
"We're very excited a private entrepreneur would come in and build this type of facility without asking something of government," said Council Chairman M.H. Jim Estepp (D-Croom). "Here's someone giving back to the community. I think it's terrific."
The council granted Brody a 20-year lease with two 10-year renewal options. After 40 years, the facility will be donated to the park commission.
As part of his agreement with the county, Brody is required to turn over 50 percent of any profit made at the complex. He also will donate $25,000 a year for a recreation program to promote tennis in Prince George's County.
"I decided early on that it was not right for me to ask the taxpayers of Prince George's County--even though they will benefit from this--to contribute to the center when I had the capability to do it," said Brody, who founded a private investment firm in Washington after leaving the government-held Export-Import Bank.
The mission of the center is to offer professional instruction to disadvantaged youngsters and other players with high potential for earning Division 1 college scholarships.
Brody said most of the players enrolled in the year-round instruction program probably will need scholarships to participate.
Council member Thomas R. Hendershot (D-New Carrollton) praised the idea of the training center and said county residents should expect to benefit.
"It will be a very good opportunity for a lot of those people to get the very best in training," said Hendershot, whose district includes College Park.
The center's advisory board includes an A-list group of prominent Washington residents and tennis enthusiasts: William H.G. FitzGerald, former ambassador to Ireland and director of the International Tennis Hall of Fame; Paul Ignatius, former secretary of the Navy and the former chairman of the Washington Tennis Foundation; and Henry Kennedy, a federal judge and senior men's tournament player.
The training center's outdoor courts will have hard and soft surfaces and the indoor courts will be housed in three structures made of steel and fabric.
Brody said construction will begin immediately at the site on Cpl. Frank Scott Drive and Piney Branch Parkway. The indoor courts are expected to be finished by mid-January and the outdoor courts by spring.