Empie Park currently has 8 hard court tennis courts... It's the most popular public tennis facility in Wilmington. The courts get a lot of use especially from the Greater Wilmington Tennis Association. League matches are played at Empie throughout the year and soon the tennis players there will have more courts thanks to a $1.5 million parks & greenspace bond that passed two years ago. Yona Bar-Zeev, president of the GWTA says: " we have over 4,000 people in Wilmington that play tennis, and last year we had 1,000 kids in Wilmington playing in our kids program all in Wilmington. The city of Wilmington and New Hanover will split the 1.5 million dollar tennis expansion cost. The Greater Wilmington Tennis Association wants to raise another $750,000 thru private donations in order to complete the new Althea Gibson Tennis Center at Empie Park which will include a spacious clubhouse.. Althea.Gibson lived in Wilmington as a teenager. She went on to become the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open Champion. In order to make room for the tennis expansion.... The softball fields at Empie will soon be history... 2 fields will be removed sometime this fall, but there's no need to worry for softball players. A new softball complex is currently on the drawing board in the Murrayville section of New Hanover County where 5 new field will replace these 2 fields. Then there's the issue of basketball. These courts will be removed, but new courts will be constructed nearby to accommodate the tennis expansion, but the number of courts is not known yet. It could possibly be as many as 18. The number will be determined at a public hearing on Monday at the New Hanover County Library. Tara Duckworth, city of Wilmington: " so we really won't know until we get the bid, but our intent on Monday is for the community to see what prices we anticipate and help us make decisions on what are the "must haves" and what are the "like to haves". One of those "like to haves" is a clay court surface. Currently all the courts at Empie are hard courts. More than likely the expansion will result in a combination of hard courts and clay.
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