As in most areas of the U.S., pickleball is on the up and up in Nevada.
3,300 Pickleball Players
According to Brien Vokits, the president of the Southern Nevada Pickleball Association, the Las Vegas area is home to approximately 3,300 dedicated pickleball players categorized as “core” players. This designation implies that each of them participated in the sport at least eight times during the previous year.
“And then there are quite a few casual pickleball players we don’t keep track of in those statistics. We’re looking at the next generation.
“Demographics are growing, but the number of kids that are coming into the sport is wonderful, and they are naturals at playing pickleball. It’s amazing how quickly they adapt to the sport.”
An Inconceivable Demand
A decade ago, the current demand for pickleball at Durango Hills Park would have been inconceivable. Back then, when Vokits’ wife purchased six paddles for their walking group, consisting of roughly a dozen friends, and they initially gave the sport a try, they couldn’t have anticipated the incredible surge in popularity it would experience today.
Patti Chess, an organization director, said, “People would walk their dogs, and we’d go, ‘You want to try pickleball?’” There weren’t enough people.”
Sheila Stewart, who founded the Neon Picklers meetup group has grown from five to 460 members in just over a year.
Recently, Stewart saw an argument break out at the crowded Aloha Shores Park when some players were not honoring the booking system and refused to leave the court.
She says although local governments have built new courts or converted others for pickleball, they’re having trouble keeping pace with the growing demand.
“We really are desperate and need more courts.”
Demand Outstripping Supply
Steve Ford, Las Vegas’ Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, says he receives calls and emails regularly from residents asking for more courts to be built inside the city limits. Presently, the city has 23 outdoor courts spread over five parks.
Ford adds,“We’re trying to meet the demand as best we can with budget permitting and space permitting”.
Two recreational centers have indoor pickleball facilities and the city is looking to add courts at Centennial Hills, Lorenzi, Patriot, and Children’s Memorial parks.
You can play pickleball at three places in northern Las Vegas. Henderson and Clark County both feature six courts, with a large 24-court complex at the county’s Sunset Park.
The city’s most ambitious project is the 30-court complex planned for Wayne Bunker Park, at 7351 W. Alexander Road in the northwest valley.
#lvcouncil accepted a grant award in the amount of $12,009,000 for the development of the Regional Pickleball Complex at Wayne Bunker Park, 7351 W. Alexander Road.— City of Las Vegas (@CityOfLasVegas) April 5, 2023
This will add 30 courts within the city.
A design will be finalized with community involvement. pic.twitter.com/w3p5CBsvxq
A Clash Erupted
In April, during a Las Vegas City Council meeting, a clash erupted between neighborhood residents and pickleball enthusiasts regarding the approval of a $12 million grant from the Bureau of Land Management to develop a new pickleball center. Notably, those who spoke against the item did not criticize the sport or argue against the need for more courts; their concerns were primarily related to noise.
To address these noise-related concerns, the city is collaborating with a consultant on finding suitable solutions. The final design, which is still in progress, may include measures like lights designed not to “bleed out” and noise mitigation techniques such as sound panels, taller walls, trees, or any other methods that can help dampen the sound.
Noise And Light Issues
Tom Yeh, a Las Vegas-based professional pickleball player who coaches the game at Life Time Fitness in Summerlin and Green Valley, suggested that the noise and light issues could be resolved by creating more public indoor pickleball facilities. He pointed out that the sport is more enjoyable under a roof, especially considering the valley breezes and heat.
“People don’t realize it’s fun and it feels good to play outdoors, but because it’s a light piece of plastic ball, it gets affected by wind quite a bit, more so than tennis balls.”
We’ve also featured the pickleball scene in Las Vegas in these other great articles.
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