Laredo: City Council Enters Lease with Texas A&M to Construct Tennis Complex
Feature Photo (above): The Vergara Science Center building at Texas A&M International University. Image courtesy of TAMIU.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Laredo (Webb County)–City Council authorized execution of a 20-year ground lease agreement with Texas A&M University System in order to build, operate and maintain a tennis complex on the Texas A&M International University campus.
The action was taken Sept. 3 on the consent agenda. The agreement is for an 11.32-acre complex with 18 courts, with eight of the courts being designated for city use. Promoters of the project had hoped to get 21 courts and the lease refers to 21 courts.
During public comment, supporters of the project asked City Council to consider additional funding, if available, to reach the 21-court goal.
The tennis complex shall be lighted and built to U.S. Tennis Association standards for conducting tournaments. It must also be built to NCAA standards.
According to a July 2017 Laredo Morning Times report, the estimated cost to construct the sports complex was $15 million, but that estimate included eight baseball fields, four softball fields and four Little League fields.
Should the project site proceed according to the approximate location of the original sports complex master plan, the tennis courts will be located just beyond the northeast corner of the existing campus on a tract of undeveloped land the university owns east by southeast of University Boulevard.
The lands owned by TAMIU are within the red boundary. The undeveloped tract (within the yellow boundary and east of the existing campus) has been designated for a sports complex. Image: Google Earth.
Efforts to construct such a complex took shape in 2014 when voters agreed to a proposition for the financing and construction of a sports complex venue on the university campus as part of the city’s parks and recreation system. It was to be financed with existing sales and use tax revenues.
However, during negotiations in 2016, TAMIU rescinded the offer for the acreage needed.
In 2018, the Texas A&M Board of Regents instead agreed to proceed with the project, but under the condition the university system would retain ownership and provide a ground lease. While the university system retains ownership of the land, the city will own all improvements constructed on the premises.
“In order to assist in the development of sports venues on the TAMIU Campus for the benefit of … (the university) and the City of Laredo, the A&M System has deemed it in the best interests of the State of Texas and of the University to lease the land to the city for the purpose of developing the land and constructing … a tennis complex,” the lease states.
The tennis complex will enhance the university’s College of Education’s Kinesiology program. It will be for the use of students, faculty and residents of the city.
The university shall have priority in the hosting of tournaments and will have 100% rights to concession revenues, as well as to the granting of licenses for naming rights.
The preliminary site plan that was prepared Aug. 19 was drafted by Frank Architects Inc. for the City of Laredo.
Proposed 18-court site plan by Frank Architects, with options to expand to 21 courts. Courtesy: City of Laredo.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.