The new owners of Ottawa’s historic Rideau Tennis Club say they’ll be bringing new sports to the 105-year-old facility while also vowing to honour the club’s “storied past.”
On Monday, the RA Centre announced they had sold the club on the banks of the Rideau River to a “new organization” called the Rideau Sports Centre.
Its CEO, Nicki Bridgland, founded the Ottawa Sports and Social Club, which oversees dozens of sports leagues around the city.
“This new organization is going to respect the storied past of the Rideau Tennis Club,” Bridgland told CBC News.
She’s working with advisers in the tennis community and architect Barry Padolsky, himself a club member, to look at how to update the facility as it opens up to more public use and new sports, she said.
‘The key here is introducing a diversity of sport’
The RA Centre, which has run the club since 2004, said a change in the tennis market over the last decade made it difficult to make money at the facility.
But Bridgland said there’s high demand for sports facilities in Ottawa.
“I think the key here is introducing a diversity of sport, while maintaining tennis at the facility. But introducing other sports, so that there are really different demographics that we’re tapping into and providing innovative and varied programming for all demographics.”
Bridgland also said the revamped and re-named Rideau Sports Centre will include a new restaurant and patios that will be open to the public.
Neither party would disclose the value of the deal for the lease, which is on land owned by the National Capital Commission.
Members on edge
Founded in 1912, the club has 19 outdoor tennis courts in the summer and eight hard courts open during the winter under two air domes.
Members have been on edge about the fate of the tennis club since earlier this summer, when management delayed a pair of meetings.
Marc O’Sullivan, who has been a member for almost a decade, attended a meeting for members about the sale. He’s worried changes will eliminate the programs that brought tennis fans to the facility, he said.
“My hope is that the new owners will try to have not only have tennis courts available, but have clinics, tournaments, leagues…