Atlanta City Council scraps proposed contract with new tennis facility manager

Raian Luchici, 35, Director of Tennis at Bitsy Grant Tennis Center, gives lessons to a young tennis player at the center in Atlanta, Ga., on Friday, June 28, 2019. (Casey Sykes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Casey Sykes

Credit: Casey Sykes

The Atlanta City Council voted Tuesday to effectively kill a contract that would have turned over management of the city’s five tennis facilities to a new company, leaving the fate of their operations in further doubt.

Universal Tennis Management has run the tennis facilities for the past decade and was one of two companies to bid on the contract. But Agape Tennis Academy has now twice scored better during the procurement process.

A groundswell of public support to keep Universal prompted the city to rebid the contract last year. The public credited Universal with reviving the centers and providing superior coaches.

But still, according to the city’s procurement rules, Agape came out on top again this year.

The council listened to more than four hours of public comment — the vast majority about tennis management — at its Tuesday meeting.

Councilwoman Andrea Boone was the lone vote against discarding legislation to award the contract to Agape.

The city, which has one of the country’s most vibrant tennis scenes, could rebid the contract a third time, or Agape could take Atlanta to court asking a judge to enforce the procurement process.

With renewal provisions, the contract was worth up to $25 million over nine years. The city would have received about 20 percent of the revenue.

The revenue calculations were made prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently the city’s parks department is managing its tennis facilities, which only allow singles matches, but no lessons because of the virus.

In other action Tuesday:

The council approved legislation for the city’s Department of Grants and Community Development to accept a $836,000 COVID-19 relief grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce. And it approved legislation urging state legislators to ban no-knock warrants.

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