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A Permanent Solution

New tennis facility made of seven metal building systems replaces temporary fabric structure

Chief June18 1

Woods Park in Lincoln, Neb., is home to some choice tennis action. It’s been that way since 1985, when tennis programs including lessons, clinics and leagues were made available to the community without the cost of joining a country club. Air-supported fabric structures were installed all those years ago, providing six indoor courts, as a means to allow year-round play for the area athletes. The “bubbles,” as they became known in the Lincoln area, were only ever meant to be temporary structures. At the time, inexpensive in comparison to a more permanent structure, they were never intended to still be in use over 30 years later. Needless to say, the bubbles have lived beyond their expected life span, but not at a cost. The heating and cooling expense became astronomical since the once airtight structure became anything but. Maintenance had become burdensome, too. Patching leaks was a common theme, in later years resorting to duct tape as the low-buck solution to eke out as much utility of the structures as possible.

That has all changed now, thanks to over 450 private donors and the City of Lincoln, which provided close to a million dollars from keno funds to meet the $6.4 million campaign goal. In Summer 2017, Woods Park opened up a new indoor tennis facility and hosted the high school Girls Class B State Tennis Tournament. The new facility also houses six indoor tennis courts, but now with even more room for spectators. An elevated walkway allows exceptional vantage points down into all of the courts below. Additionally, there are new locker rooms, more storage space as well as new office space that provides a direct view and control of the courts.

The new 49,000-square-foot metal building system was provided and delivered by a trio of local Nebraska powerhouses. Sampson Construction in Lincoln was the general contractor, while CHIEF Buildings in Grand Island, Neb., manufactured the building systems, and Ironhide Construction Inc., Lincoln, was the erector. The new facility, which will be owned by the city, addresses all of the shortcomings of the aging bubbles.

The complex is comprised of seven new metal building structures that are airtight and energy efficient. The roof and walls are heavily insulated with a Simple Saver liner system from Thermal Design Inc., Stoughton, Wis., exceeding R-30 values throughout. The CHIEF Buildings’ AP wall panels, a pre-coated metal panel supplied in Ash Gray, is as maintenance free as it gets. Boasting the durability of a 26-gauge metal panel and the longevity of a polyvinyl paint system that offers a 35-year finish warranty, there will be no need for duct tape repairs, ever.

The MSC standing seam roof system supplied by CHIEF Buildings provides a penetration-free, mechanically seamed solution for complete and worry-free coverage. The 24-gauge roof panels, also in Ash Gray, supplied with the same polyvinyl finish as the walls and offering the same 35-year finish warranty, was installed to meet the rigors of 120-mph peak wind speeds.

The system was purchased with a 20-year weathertightness warranty for even more worry-free ownership. Attractive and functional, all of the framing members were electrocoated in gray primer, an industry exclusive available only from CHIEF Buildings. This primer system is applied after all welding, cutting and hole punching, ensuring the absolute best overall coverage that only a submersed electrostatic and baked on application can provide. In this application, the visible columns and rafters were finished with a white paint to make them disappear into the white face of the surrounding insulation liner.

This new permanent structure means that affordable indoor tennis will remain available to the Lincoln community for quite a few more generations. With those future generations in mind, the structure was designed to accept a 28,000-square-foot addition allowing three more indoor courts. The private non-profit group, Friends of Woods Tennis, which operates the tennis programs would surely choose to see that happen before another 32 years passes. Until then, the sport remains alive and well, continually growing, in Lincoln.

There was a rather unceremonious changing of the guards as the old bubbles slowly deflated in July 2017, a process that took four days. But, from a certain vantage point in the tree-shaded parking lot, one could watch the bubbles slowly sink, revealing the new building behind it and the Nebraska State Capitol building behind that. For those involved in the nine years of planning and fundraising, the sight must have been awe-inspiring.

Brian Shelton is the marketing manager for Chief Buildings, Grand Island, Neb. To learn more, visit