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Lifetime Memberships in Doubt at Naval Sports Complex

ANNAPOLIS, MD -- Once ownership of the Brigade Sports Complex, Annapolis, MD, is transferred to the Naval Academy on March 31, civilian community members who paid dues at the complex will likely lose access to its fitness center and indoor tennis courts. Some civilian members who paid for lifetime memberships to the tennis facility also are left wondering whether all their money will be returned.

When they joined three years ago, members who purchased lifetime memberships for the tennis program were allegedly not told the complex would become government property, The Baltmore Sun reported.

The $18.5 million, 150,000-square foot facility opened in 2007 and was built with private funding. At the end of March, the Naval Academy Athletic Association plans to transfer ownership of the complex to the Naval Academy. Approximately 650 members will be affected by the ownership change.

The complex has always been “intended for the eventual transfer to the Department of the Navy and the benefit of the Brigade of Midshipmen,” Deborah Goode, Academy spokeswoman, told the newspaper. She added that the military generally prohibits the sale of private memberships at its facilities.

The civilian tennis players say they paid $150 each for what they thought were lifetime memberships. In addition, they have paid annual dues and court time fees.

Members facing cancellation are expected to get prorated refunds, according to a letter sent by Naval Academy Business Director Syd Rodenbarger last week to affected members. However, tennis players said they’ve been told that refunds are unlikely to include the $150 lifetime membership fee.

The Navy will look into whether memberships were initially billed as lifetime ones, and whether they were sold by officials who knew that the memberships would expire in a few years, Goode said.

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