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Tennis megaplex in central Florida to help sport and region grow

Scheduled to open in late 2016, the complex is intended to anchor an envisioned cluster of sports businesses in a fast-growing section of Orlando that is also seeking to position itself as a major medical hub.

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The tennis facility will feature a mix of red and green clay courts, as well as hard courts and a show court to be used for collegiate tournaments. The complex also includes a lodge to house up to 32 youth players.

The U.S. Tennis Association is leasing 63 acres for $1 per year in Lake Nona, a community developed by Tavistock Group, a Bahamas-based private-equity firm, which recruited the tennis organisation to relocate from White Plains, New York.

Tavistock aims to build a sports-oriented mega-complex modelled after the adjacent 650-acre health sciences cluster that it began developing in 2005.

Adding the tennis complex is “not a game changer but it should serve as a catalyst” for regional growth, said Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo Economics Group, who is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Lake Nona Medical City was launched around a new medical school at the University of Central Florida and has grown to include a half-dozen medical research and treatment facilities.

The development has been a significant driver of urban growth in Orlando, long known for its theme parks. A new commuter rail line launched last year in the region, now also home to a major league soccer franchise.

The non-profit U.S. Tennis Association, with 715,000 members, owns the U.S. Open, one of the sport’s leading international tournaments.

(Editing by Letitia Stein and Mohammad Zargham)