His vision of a ski-in ski-out tennis facility may not be too far away. Theile, who is co-founder of the Telluride and Mountain Village Tennis Club, LLC (along with Michael Zivian and Eliot Brown), has been acting as the managing member for the club and working with the Town of Mountain Village and other entities to cover two existing tennis courts with a bubble.
"Kathy Mahoney [Mountain Village Town Manager] and I had been talking about some sort of covered tennis court for a while," said Theile. "It never dawned on us that we could get a bubble approved. It doesn't meet the criteria for Mountain Village." But then Jim Wells, chairman of the board of directors for both the Mountain Village Metro District and the Mountain Village Owner's Association, and Mahoney took up the charge. "They said 'Why not? We can ask for a special use permit,'" Theile said. "So we went to the Mountain Village Town Council and did just that."
A three-year special use permit was approved at the Tuesday, Nov. 9 council meeting.
In addition to council approval, the Mountain Village Owners Association approved $75,000 for the project to cover costs of construction improvements to the tennis courts, including building a foundation for the bubble structure and extending utilities to the site.
"We're trying to logistically figure out how to do the foundation," said Theile. "Literally it is just the construction of a concrete foundation for the bubble." The bubble is a frame and fabric structure designed to withstand winds up to 80 mph. "Time is getting short to put it up this year," said Theile. Once the approvals are in and the bubble structure is ordered, winter weather may delay construction further.
"We have our fingers crossed for a window long enough for all this to happen," said Theile. "Ideally the club would like to see it up around the end of December or beginning of January."
Before anything can happen, however, several other entities have to sign-off on the project, including the Wyndham Peaks Resort and the Telluride Ski and Golf Company.
"The open space the courts are located on is owned by Telski," said Mollye Wolahan, director of community development for Mountain Village. "The Peaks Resort has the management responsibility for the courts."
The courts under consideration are the two lower courts at the Peaks. "Both companies have to sign off on the project for it to move forward." Wolahan estimated it would take several months for all the approvals to go through and hoped the bubble would be built by the end of the ski season.
If approved by all groups involved, the Telluride and Mountain Village Tennis Club would take over management responsibilities for the covered courts from the Peaks.
"We formed the club specifically for the purpose of creating an indoor tennis facility," said Theile. "If and when the tennis club takes over responsibility for the courts, we will have various tiers of fees and memberships, from family memberships to individual ones as well as simple court fees for players."
The covered tennis courts will be surfaced with classic red clay, "soft courts for us old guys," said Theile. Indoor courts will also enable the club to attract tennis pros and host special events like tennis demonstrations and tours. The club also plans to hire a tennis pro for the facility. The bubble will stay up year round with sides that can be rolled up during the summer months, leaving the top still covered.
"Mountain Village has a long range plan for a community center," said Wolahan. "The first public meeting was held last month to prioritize needs. It's possible the tennis courts could become a component of the community center."
"It has been a great regional effort," said Theile. "Mollye has been absolutely wonderful as has the Mountain Village Town Council and Owner's Association. I am tickled at the possibility. People have been coming out of the woodwork in support of it. Right now we're just teetering on the verge of making it happen."