February 2017 -- It has been some time since I have been able to share with you the status of our project to construct our new corporate headquarters in Lake Nona, Fla., adjacent to the new Home of American Tennis and the USTA National Campus outside of Orlando, Fla. I have received many phone calls and emails from industry people and USPTA members alike that have been under the assumption that we had already moved. So, my intent with this writing is to set the record straight and provide a realistic timeline as to when we expect to take occupancy of our new building.
Up until this point, there was nothing really to report because we have been in a holding pattern until we were issued our building permit from the city. We had anticipated that we would be granted the permit back in September, but unfortunately, for reasons beyond our control, that did not happen. After a three-month delay, we were finally issued approval for the permit just prior to Thanksgiving. Actual construction commenced the week thereafter.
In working with our general contractor, they forecasted the project to be completed five to six months from the date we got underway. If that is true, it would mean that we would not be able to move into our new digs until sometime in May or maybe even early June. That is a far cry from the late-March date that we had originally planned, but so it goes. Obviously, so much depends on the weather cooperating and not running into any major snafus along the way.
For any of you who have been involved with building a home or other large projects, I don’t have to tell you that unforseen things happen that can easily sidetrack the process. However, since I have personally relocated to Lake Nona (arriving in early November), it will be easier to manage the project by being here locally rather than having to do so from long distance if I were still in Houston. To be able to stay on top of any development that will undoubtedly occur in order to minimize further delays is bound to help us meet or even exceed our projected timeline.
Being physically on site has its other advantages as well. Spending time at the new USTA complex on the National Campus brings perspective on how important this venue is going to be for our sport. On any given day, one can see a host of manufacturers, industry executives, representatives from allied organizations, grassroots champions, media, USTA volunteers/staff, etc., coming through the facility. People not only want to see the incredible complex but to conduct meetings in order to be aligned with the opportunity that the Home of American Tennis will provide. Who wants to visit us in an oil and gas commercial district of Houston?
The enthusiasm for this facility is overwhelming. Tennis is on everyone’s mind, whether it be to play or talk about it. Growing the game is not only our charge but the mission of everyone engaged in the sport. While we are all in the game because we love it, we also have a burning desire to get on the court for our own well-being and stoke the fire that burns in all of us to hit some balls. There is no excuse for any of us who are here to not get on the court and get some exercise and to do so on a regular basis. I can’t wait!
Meanwhile, the transition for our staff continues to be a major concern. Since we will remain in our current domicile in Texas for the next four to five months with the existing team, we won’t be restructuring our group until April, at least. The good news about that is that we will get through the all-important dues season (which is going on now) with our current crew intact. And with the prospect of suspending close to 2,000 members who did not comply with the professional development requirement at the end of December, the continuity of our employees will be crucial as we work our way through these critical months in Q1.
I have said it many times previously and I will say it again: this is an incredibly exciting time to be part of the USPTA! As 2017 rolls in, it will be a new beginning in our rich, 90-year history. There is so much to which we can look forward. I am eager to open our doors of our high-tech, eco-friendly operation to all of you. Come visit us at any time. Our new home is your home. See you soon!