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New pickleball courts coming

Post Date:02/15/2024 9:00 AM

Just three and a half months after approving an updated Parks & Recreation Department master plan that showed the increasing popularity of pickleball in Carlsbad, the City Council has approved locations for the design and construction of eight new outdoor courts. Added to the existing six outdoor pickleball courts at Poinsettia Community Park, the four proposed courts at Calavera Hills Community Park and the four proposed courts at Stagecoach Community Park mean Carlsbad will have a total of 14 outdoor pickleball courts spread among north, central and south Carlsbad.

The new courts will include lights for night play and special matting on the perimeter fencing designed to reduce noise. Courts will be open the same hours as the parks (8 a.m. to 10 p.m.) and locked overnight.

Pickleball, which sports industry sources cite as the fastest growing sport in the United States for the past five years in a row, has been described as a combination of tennis, Ping-Pong and badminton.

The sport has trended with older adults in the past — half of all serious pickleball players (those who play eight or more times a year) in 2021 were 55 and older, according to the USA Pickleball Association. But the vast majority of casual players are under 55, and the fastest-growing segment of all pickleball players are under 24.

When approving the master plan last September, the City Council considered how to best meet the growing demand for pickleball courts, ultimately deciding against converting existing tennis courts or creating shared courts, even though those options could be completed more quickly than designing and constructing new pickleball courts. Feedback from tennis players and pickleball players alike led the City Council to opt for new, dedicated pickleball courts. The proposed eight courts will take about two years to complete.

Park locations considered
Among the locations considered for new outdoor pickleball courts, the Calavera Hills and Stagecoach locations rose to the top of the list because they were the best fit with the selection criteria, which included:

  • Geographic diversity (spreading courts out in different locations of the city)
  • Distance from nearby residents and protected habitat areas (pickleball can be noisy)
  • Locations that would not significantly affect existing park uses or programs
  • Locations adjacent to existing tennis courts to create a racquet sports complex (like Poinsettia)
  • Availability of parking, restrooms and other infrastructure
  • Construction requirements and estimated project costs

Outdoor pickleball courts are also among the amenities proposed in three design concepts for the future Robertson Ranch Park. The city is currently seeking community feedback on the park's design through an online survey.

Next steps

  • Solicit and hire a design consultant.
  • Complete the required environmental analysis and permitting process.
  • Prepare detailed construction plans and put them out to bid.

The eight new outdoor pickleball courts are expected to open in about 24 to 28 months and are estimated to cost between $2 million and $2.4 million total.

Indoor pickleball and classes
In the meantime, in addition to the six courts at Poinsettia Community Park, the City of Carlsbad offers indoor pickleball at three community centers:

The city also offers pickleball lessons for adults. Residents can sign up online. Pickleball is also available on a pay to play basis at certain private facilities, such as racquet sports clubs and churches.

A 2023 study by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association showed that pickleball was the fastest growing sport in the country for the fifth year in a row, with nearly one in five Americans playing at least once in the past 12 months. Carlsbad built its first six outdoor pickleball courts at Poinsettia Community Park in 2019 after pickleball emerged as a top priority during the creation of the city's previous Parks & Recreation Department master plan. The same Sports & Fitness Industry Association study found that participation in all racquet sports had increased over the previous year for the first time since 2015.

Staff presented options to construct new outdoor pickleball courts to the Parks & Recreation Commission on Jan. 22 and the Senior Commission on Feb. 1. Both commissions recommended staff's proposal to construct four new courts at Calavera Hills Community Park and four new courts at Stagecoach Community Park.

About pickleball
According to the U.S. Pickleball Association, pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, Washington. Three dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum — whose kids were bored with their usual summertime activities — are credited for creating the game. The simple rules, accessibility for all fitness levels and highly social pickleball community are credited with the sport's fast growth.

More information
Feb. 13 City Council staff report
2023-2030 Parks & Recreation Department Master Plan Update
Parks & Recreation Department, parksandrec@carlsbadca.gov

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