A LITTLE HISTORY / THE UNIPRIX STADIUM
The first international tennis tournament was held in 1981. For Tennis Canada, the selection of the Jarry Park site was a foregone conclusion. As was reported by the newspaper La Presse on June 2, 1979: «Never has a Montreal international sports project been so solidly anchored from the start, setting up shop at such a natural and easily transformable site (...)»
From 1993 onwards, Montreal joined the select club of nine cities participating in tennis's premier circuit. The only fly in the ointment was, and had been for some time, the blatantly dilapidated state of the Jarry Park Stadium. The facility had to be modernized to meet the needs of the tennis fan and, most of all, to secure Montreal's international status so as not to be overlooked for major tournaments.
On February 9, 1995, an agreement was reached between the City of Montreal and Tennis Canada. By virtue of this 20-year deal, «the city ceded 20 acres of Jarry Park land to Tennis Canada in exchange for management by the latter of the facilities to be constructed. As well, one-quarter of the usage time of these new facilities would be reserved for potential (sic) players, half for free tennis play and the remaining quarter for tournament-level play. As well, the stadium would take on a new mission among youngsters and tennis prospects, who would have an opportunity to be preferred clients at the Jarry Stadium (...) The facilities, declared the mayor, will become an asset for this sports and cultural activity area.»5
This agreement is certainly a fine example of what the city extols in its «Cadre de référence pour le développement et la mise en valeur des espaces libres de Montréal» document. «The maximization of Montreal's public spaces will depend largely on the City's capacity to develop new forms of partnerships with various parties to increase the resources complementary to those of the city, whether of a real estate or financial nature, or in the form of direct interventions.»6
The most recent years in the history «of Jarry Park tennis stadium have been a tremendous success, and speak to the vision of people who truly wanted to entrench tennis in Montreal»7 so that today, « ... the residents of Villeray and elsewhere have come to appreciate Jarry Park, integrate it into their daily lives and expect that the authorities will supply it with equipment appropriate not only for the sporting elite, but for amateur athletes and all other Montrealers.»8
In fact, "at Jarry Park, particularly during the summer season, there is no shortage of favorable opportunities to organize various activities; the place is welcoming, the local population takes part in friendly fashion and ideas about meetings, parties and other activities abound. Some have a cultural vocation, others focus more on sports, and some combine both.»9 The design of the Jarry Park Tennis Centre redevelopment and expansion project pays due homage to this tradition.
Montreal is the only city other than Toronto where Tennis Canada hangs its shingle. During the period when the idea to transform the old Jarry Park baseball stadium into a modern tennis stadium took shape, the desire to consolidate Quebec's tennis organizations under the same roof was also expressed. It was an opportunity to spark a creative synergy between the various levels represented in Montreal: national, provincial and municipal.
The opening of the Center crystallized a partnership the greater Montreal area's tennis community sorely needed. The stadium created, in the heart of the city, a «critical mass» of shared facilities and equipment essential to the development of the sport.
As such, the Uniprix Stadium now headquarters the executives, employees and volunteers of the Quebec Tennis Federation,10 in addition to the Tennis Montreal11 personnel who, until 1996, could operate only five months a year since the city owned only outdoor tennis courts. Added to that were related services such as a sports equipment shop and a physiotherapy clinic. The City of Montreal's city parks service employees also have offices there.
By virtue of the partnership between Tennis Canada, the Quebec Tennis Federation and the City of Montreal, the general public uses the Uniprix Stadium facilities for recreational play at a rate of 45 percent. Tennis Montreal uses another 25 percent of the available court time, and the Quebec Tennis Federation shares the remainder with Tennis Canada for developmental activities.
. Lessons for wheelchair tennis players
. Recreational leagues
. Competitive leagues
. Selected activities with Montreal-area elementary and high schools.
While respecting Jarry Park's traditional vocation, we also optimize this great park's service to the neighbouring communities, notably by integrating tennis into the curriculum of some area schools. To that end, the collaboration with Polyvalente Lucien-Pagé (1997-2002) is a project Tennis Canada intends to expand to the elementary-school level with the collaboration of Tennis Montreal. Over the last six years, more than 8,000 young Montrealers aged 7 to 17 have played tennis at the Uniprix Stadium thanks to the work of this organization.
There is little doubt that activities meeting several needs at once (socialization, relaxation, play, physical health, discovery and learning) are becoming more and more popular.
The Uniprix Stadium is therefore a leading sports facility in the metropolitan area, serving a pool of more than 50,000 tennis players. Its clientele is varied and numerous, and residents of neighbouring areas have access to tennis courts «in their own back yard» and, with the Access Montreal card, with preferential rates and benefits.
In April 2004, the Jarry Park Tennis Center became the Uniprix Stadium, the new namesake of the largest chain of independent pharmacists in Québec.
5 Le parc Jarry de Montréal, François Hudon, édition Logique, 2000, page 163
6 Cadre de référence pour le développement et la mise en valeur des espaces libres de Montréal, 1992, page 35
7 Le parc Jarry de Montréal, François Hudon, édition Logique, 2000, page 166
8 Le parc Jarry de Montréal, François Hudon, édition Logique, 2000, page 190
9 Le parc Jarry de Montréal, François Hudon, édition Logique, 2000, page 175, 176
10 Founded more than 100 years ago, Tennis Quebec is a non-profit organization devoted to the promotion of tennis in Quebec. It regroups more than 500 000 enthusiasts and approximately 35 000 individual members mainly from its indoor and subsidiary clubs. The TQ continuously implements programs to insure growth of tennis at all levels of participation, i.e. introduction, recreation, competition and high performance. Tennis Québec is proud to be associated to the presentation of major tournaments in the province, such as Rogers Cup, Tennis Masters Canada, Bell Challenge, Canada's Junior International (Repentigny), Granby Challenger, and more than 150 tournaments it sanctions each year.
11 Tennis Montréal is an affiliation of the City of Montréal whose goal is to promote and develop tennis in Montreal. Its mission is to help young athletes perform at their best. Determination, courage, sportsmanship and honesty are some of the values taught in this program.