The Booker T. Anderson Park in Richmond, California currently has two permanent pickleball courts and four multi-use courts that can accommodate both tennis and pickleball.
The city and neighborhood council agreed that sharing the courts for different sports would benefit the community by providing more recreation options, according to LaShonda White, Richmond’s deputy city manager of Community Services.
Sharing Can Be Challenging
However, court sharing can be challenging for pickleball players, especially older ones, said Darlene Drapkin, president of the East Bay Pickleball Association:
“We have to set up portable nets. Even on the ‘dedicated pickleball courts,’ the city of Richmond put tennis lines on it. We are all seniors, and it is heavy to pick these things up and move them around.”
In early September, the city implemented a schedule allowing pickleball on the tennis courts if tennis players are absent. But with over 30 players around at any one time, waiting times are long.
A National Trend
Richmond reflects a national trend, as the sport’s popularity strains court capacity nationwide,
“It has been a challenge for towns across the country in providing pickleball courts,” says Melissa Zhang of USA Pickleball.
Carl Schmits, USA Pickleball’s managing director of Facilities Development and Equipment Standards, said there is a shortage of pickleball courts compared to tennis courts.
With 23 million tennis players and 9 million pickleball players in the U.S., there should be 37 pickleball courts per 100 tennis courts. Instead, USA Pickleball data shows about 17.6 pickleball courts per 100 tennis courts.
Richmond has 22 tennis courts and two dedicated pickleball courts.
A Big Interest
Cathy Taruskin, vice president of the East Bay Pickleball Association, said pickleball players tend to play more frequently than tennis players. She believes pickleball players will fully utilize any new city resources. “We don’t need to tell the government what to do. We are just showing them that there is a big interest,” said frequent player Kaeleen Costa.
Some criticize pickleball’s distinctive sound on paddle-on-ball, but not all residents near the courts agree. “They are great. I love them using the courts and enjoying themselves,” said Karla Suomala, who has lived across the street from the courts for nine years.
White said the Recreation Department is exploring more multi-use and dedicated pickleball courts. Also, PB Development Group hopes to build 16 indoor pickleball courts in Craneway Pavilion at Marina Bay, with water sports, a pro shop, restaurant and bar.
An initial state rejection cited non-conformance with the 2004 agreement requiring waterfront-related public access. Hong said the group has clarified and resubmitted paperwork, expecting court availability by January.
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