Fitness, tennis center breaks ground

Monday, March 28, 2005

After Saturday's groundbreaking for the Southeast Sports and Fitness Center, Cape Area Tennis Association president Al Mitchener said it will be good to have such a facility "in our own back yard."

That hit particularly close to home for Shawn McNally, the Jackson businessman who is fulfilling a dream to have the facility built. After all, the building will be erected in what currently is his back yard.

"We bought this house 3 1/2 years ago to build a gym here," McNally told CATA members and friends who attended Saturday morning's groundbreaking. "We didn't even look at the inside of the house. We dreamed of a sports and fitness center for years, and this was the right place. In 22 weeks, a bulldozer is going to knock down our house, and it will become the parking lot."

McNally's "gym" will be a building at or exceeding 60,000 square feet and will include a swimming pool, a fitness center and -- as one of his four children noted during the ceremony -- a piano. McNally and his wife, Lynn, who operate Class Act Gymnastics, will be bringing that business north up Old Orchard Road to the new building. They envision a complex that can offer recreational activities for the entire family -- including gymnastics, swimming, martial arts, dancing, aerobics, etc.

The building also will include living quarters for the McNallys to replace their home.

"We practically live at the gym anyway," McNally said.

The complex, which McNally expects will open in the fall, also will include the region's only indoor tennis complex.

CATA has raised more than $60,000 for the tennis center, which will include two courts.

"We mark the beginning of a new era of indoor tennis," Mitchener said. "We're really excited because it's going to be open to everyone in Southeast Missouri and not strictly a membership facility. It's going to become a regional facility because there's no membership fee. It's well-located between Cape and Jackson.

"It's a great step forward for tennis in Southeast Missouri."

The region had no indoor tennis this winter, following the closing last year of the Universal Health and Fitness Center, which had an indoor tennis complex for its members.

Mitchener said the public aspect of Southeast Sports and Fitness Center's indoor tennis complex will follow the spirit of CATA's mission statement to provide "programs for the widest possible community participation."

In fact, the fundraising campaign for the center attracted a $2,000 anonymous gift which CATA will utilize to introduce young players to the game of tennis through the new facility, Mitchener said.

McNally has been working with Strickland Engineering in the design of the building. The general contractor is John Bridgeman of Farmington, who got started by taking a turn behind the golden shovel at the groundbreaking ceremony.

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