After several years of short-term rental, my wife and I purchased a winter residence south of Grand Avenue in Sun City in 2015.
We are impressed with the wide variety of cost effective facilities and activities available to residents. I am 78 years old and have often been referred to (mostly in jest) as a “gym guy.” In my younger years, I was an avid basketball player. In my 30s and 40s I began to concentrate on indoor volleyball.
I still play basketball in gyms in Surprise and Peoria when in Arizona and many other gyms in Washington and other states during spring and summer months. I have never seen or played in an indoor gym located within an age-restricted senior community. I believe the reasons for this are twofold. They are costs of construction, operation and maintenance, and lack of demand among senior residents.
Unlike multi use facilities commonly located in senior communities such as Sun City, an indoor gym is a special purpose building typically designed for basketball and volleyball use. Minimum requirements typically include at least a 2-story building height, an unobstructed floor area of sufficient length and width for at least one and preferably two legal size basketball/volleyball courts and basketball goals permanently affixed to either the walls or ceiling of the building.
While a huge senior community like The Villages in Florida may find such a building to be cost effective, the vast majority of senior communities would not.
Upon our first visit to Sun City, I quickly located an existing twice per week senior volleyball program at a gym in Surprise adjacent to a senior center. This program, as well as a similar program for senior basketball players, are still ongoing during the months when winter visitors provide sufficient numbers to make the programs viable for a very minimal cost.
In my many years of regular participation in this volleyball program, I have never seen more than 24 participants, which is the maximum number to utilize the two courts at any given time. In addition, a similar program is now available at the Rio Vista Recreation Center in Peoria and barely exceeds 12 players at any given time. Both of these programs are open to senior residents throughout the Phoenix area. Typically, only a handful of participants reside in Sun City.
In view of these facts, I strongly believe that an indoor gym in Sun City would be an expensive experiment that would not be sufficiently utilized without considerable usage from non-seniors and non-residents of Sun City. I sincerely hope that future Recreation Centers of Sun City board members will take a more realistic look at the pros and cons of an indoor gym before making a final decision on the desirability of an indoor gym.
Editor’s note: The Independent welcomes all points of view. Email your opinions, pro or con, to AzOpinions@iniusa.org.