The Taipei City government has decided to build a much-anticipated tennis center in Neihu District because the northeastern part of the city would offer the least resistance to getting the facility up quickly, the city said on Tuesday.
The city government has chosen a 5.12 hectare site that had previously been set aside for an elementary and a junior high school. The schools’ construction was later canceled because of Taiwan’s falling birth rate, leaving the land available for other purposes.
The city has budgeted NT$3.45 billion (US$107 million) for the facility, which is scheduled to break ground in 2012 and be completed in 2014.
When asked why the city chose Neihu as the site for the facility, city government spokeswoman Rose Chao told the Central News Agency that the land was owned by the city, meaning the city would not have to purchase land from the private sector.
“It will make the whole thing easier,” she said.
Expediting the project was apparently an issue. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said in a statement that the city needed to complete the tennis center to support bids to host international sports events, a sentiment confirmed by Chao.
“As one of the major cities in the world, Taipei needs a tennis center that meets international standards,” Chao said.
Taipei has launched a bid to host the Asian Games in 2019 and is planning to compete for the right to hold the East Asian Games in 2017.
According to a government proposal, the tennis center is expected to have a 10,000-seat center court and 17 outside courts, four of which will be covered.
Though the city may be targeting the facility for international sports events, local tennis circles were excited at having a dependable place to play in the future.
Chen Ti, one of Taiwan’s top male players, who has played professionally since 2002, experienced the scramble to find suitable playing venues for the Davis Cup and other tennis events over the past decade, and said the topic comes up indirectly on the ATP Tour.
“When other players ask me why Taiwan produces so many good players, but rarely holds tournaments, I tell them, a little embarrassed, that it’s because we don’t have an appropriate venue,” Chen said at a press conference held by the city to announce the tennis center’s location on Tuesday.
Chen said he was excited that Taipei would finally have a dedicated tennis center.
The city government will assign NT$4.5 million in the second half of this year to map out the details on the construction and study the feasibility of building a youth hotel to accommodate 1,000 visitors in the tennis center, Chao said.
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