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An Open Letter to
Our Community

5/2/24 - Expansion Update

With our recent announcement of withdrawing the expansion at Woods Park & Sports Complex, we have fielded numerous questions about “what’s going to happen next?” While we don’t have specifics to share at this early stage, we wanted to provide some clarity as to where we are in the process.  

We are currently working with Lincoln Parks & Recreation to identify potential site locations for a new tennis facility. This could be either public park or private land. As we consider possible locations there are many factors that will be considered (accessibility, proximity to major arterials and amenities, parking, and additional growth opportunities, just to name a few). The reality is that we are very much in the preliminary stages and are looking at a 3–4 year window before completing a new facility (site selection/prep, design, fundraising, construction, etc.)

We will continue to offer the same programming/events/scheduling/facilities here at Woods that you have come to expect. We cannot stress enough how much we value and appreciate the support of our many patrons. The Woods tennis “family” is so much more than buildings and concrete. That will not change, regardless of where we call home.


As you may have seen/heard, the Friends of Woods Tennis (FOWT), Lincoln Parks and Recreation and Mayor Gaylor-Baird announced that we have formally withdrawn our proposal for expansion at Woods Park and Sports Complex. We wanted to provide you with additional context and more insight into our plans and dreams for what will no doubt be a very exciting future.


First, the decisions behind the proposed expansion, as well as withdrawal of the proposal have not come lightly and without a fair amount of challenging deliberation. There is no question that tennis programming and facilities must expand to meet Lincoln’s current and future demand. In “Taking the Game to the Community,” we seek to provide the highest quality of public programming, while creating equity within the sport. As a result of our success, we have reached capacity issues that are ongoing. These capacity issues along with bigger dreams have helped us realize that our vision cannot be achieved at Woods Park.


Throughout the process, our proposals have been met with resistance. We have maintained a spirit of collaboration/compromise but have not been met with the same. While we expected lively discussion from all sides, the treatment of our staff, patrons and facilities has been unexpected and disappointing. 


After much discussion with Parks and Recreation, we have made the decision to look beyond the confines of Woods Park, opening the doors to some very exciting possibilities. A blank slate provides the opportunity to dream bigger in ways that we can further impact the community and those who want and believe in the value of what we bring. This move is not only best for our immediate Woods “family,” but for all players present and future, as well as the broader tennis community. It is incumbent upon us to provide an atmosphere that is safe, welcoming, and inclusive, with room to grow. 


One of the things that has been misrepresented/misunderstood is the relationship between Friends of Woods Tennis and Lincoln Parks and Recreation. While FOWT is a private, non-profit organization, we are contracted by the City of Lincoln to bring tennis programming and opportunities to area residents of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. We are a 100% self-sustaining operation with a percentage of our revenue set aside for facility maintenance. 


We are valuable partners with Parks and Recreation and they have a vested interest in FOWT being successful in expanding the game to as many area players as possible. Without FOWT, Parks and Recreation would not be able to provide the same exceptional level of playing surfaces, instruction, programming, and outreach to the public/community. Lincoln Public Schools, Pius X, and Lincoln Christian all rely on Woods Tennis Center to conduct their matches, as does NSAA, USTA, Cornhusker State Games and Special Olympics Nebraska. In all, we serve thousands of players and their families every year. 


We are currently working with Parks and Recreation to consider alternatives that would better suit the current and future needs of tennis in Lincoln. Our goal would be to build a new, state-of-the-art tennis center that would not only accommodate needs for court availability, but training facilities, educational classroom/mentoring space, as well as other attractive amenities. We envision the premier facility in the Nebraska/Missouri Valley region, and a shining example of what tennis can and should be. We have always been very inventive and progressive with our programming, and we look forward to continuing that as we go forward. Exciting possibilities exist with the full support of Parks and Recreation and Mayor Gaylor-Baird.


So what can you do? Continue to stay engaged with Woods Tennis Center and continue to be a good neighbor as we move further through this process. Your unwavering support/commitment to our work/program-current and future-has not gone unnoticed. We sincerely appreciate our patrons and supporters lending their voice to the process via letters/emails to Parks and Recreation, the Mayor, and City Council, as well as those who completed the community survey, and who spoke on our behalf at the recent community meetings. We weigh the disappointment of eventually leaving Woods Park against the excitement and possibilities for what can come next. We will continue to keep you updated as we move further down the path of “Taking the Game to the Community.”

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