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Tennis center rumors have been exaggerated

Chris Stoneback

The wildest rumors seem to be circulating regarding the recent closure of the Keystone Tennis Center. Rumors swirl of revenue losses in the 100-200 thousand dollar range, mismanagement, and sub-par tennis programs. Such rumors, however, are not simply the idle chat of temporary guests, but, more moderately exaggerated, are propagated by the Keystone Resort Guest Services/Administration check in staff. Guests questioning them on Keystone Resort’s tennis programs, which now no longer exist, are told that a lack of tournaments and significant revenue losses and mismanagement necessitated that the facility be closed.

In evaluating each of these contentions individually, dispelling their accompanying exaggerations, and then turning one’s focus to the core competencies of a “resort,” it seems that the only justified “exaggeration” concerning tennis in Keystone is that Vail Resorts made an egregious error in closing the Tennis Center.

If one is even moderately familiar with tennis, they realize that tennis at 9,000 feet is a difficult undertaking. Balls fly, the pace quickens, and a lack of oxygen makes recovery difficult. Despite these difficulties, however, the Keystone Tennis Center was able to secure many tournaments that could easily have been played in more hospitable environments. The United States Tennis Association staged regional events at the Center, local tournaments drew some of the most accomplished players from across Colorado as well as attracting various university, including the University of Colorado, teams, and charity tournaments were wildly successful in raising revenue for local causes. Such information, however, seems conveniently forgotten by those explaining the closing of the Tennis Center.

More nuance is required in evaluating the revenue losses that seem overly susceptible to gross misrepresentations. It is true that the Tennis Center lost money, though the level of these losses is several orders of magnitude smaller than the prevailing rumors. Given the significant investment in infrastructure required to maintain a tennis facility, the short outdoor season in Keystone that curbs revenue generation, and the paltry advertising sums spent by Vail Resorts to market the Tennis Center and thus promote its full potential, it is not surprising that the facility struggled in the revenue department. What is also lost in the revenue misrepresentation is that losses have been falling in recent history-hardly an indicator of mismanagement.

Immediately apparent revenue figures, however, ignore the indirect revenue generated by the Tennis Center. Focussing on “core competencies” is a popular buzzword in contemporary corporate America. This approach certainly has its merits, but when it is inappropriately applied, it can have pernicious effects. Keystone seems to have interpreted the core competencies of a resort as not including a tennis center. That seems a curious omission. Skiing, golf, and stables, but not tennis? For any corporate group looking to stage a conference or family looking to exploit all the recreational opportunities of Colorado, the lack of a functioning tennis center is certain to figure in on their decision. Eliminating such a center not only eliminates what must be considered a “core competency” of any bonafide resort but has the knock-on effect of persuading certain guests to choose to spend their vacation dollars elsewhere.

Perhaps the Keystone Tennis Center ought to have been closed. Perhaps not. However, if closure is the proper remedy, at least justify such a conclusion on legitimate information. Disseminating misinformation about the Tennis Center’s closure seems merely to suggest an incapability to justify the closure on legitimate grounds.

Chris Stoneback

Keystone Tennis Center

Summer Employee 2000- 2002


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