Bring dedicated pickleball courts to Park City
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Pickleball has become the fastest growing sport in America, and it is time that Summit County taxpayers had their own dedicated public Pickleball courts at Willow Creek park.
According to the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), there are over eight MILLION players, and that number is quickly growing. The U.S. Open of Pickleball in Naples, Florida had 800 players two years ago, 1,400 last year, and this year a whopping 2,000+ players, playing over 4,000 matches over six days. CBS Sports Network now shows the event on their channel. A new online broadcasting network called "Pickleball Channel" showed this video which shows how huge pickleball has grown:
One Facebook group, "Pickleball Forum," already has 20,000 members, and fans are seeing Pickleball matches online, live, and free all the time.
Pickleball has grown so much, the USAPA National Championships will be held in Indian Wells, California and is charging hundreds of dollars for elite pro players just to get a locker room. Yes, pro players.
Pickleball is an "everyman" and "everywoman" sport. Indeed, it is very gender-diverse, as 47% of Pickleball players are ladies. While it is true the base of Pickleball players are active retirees and the middle-aged, it is quickly becoming a sport played by youth and/or minorities.
With obesity being such a problem now (over 25% of adults and almost 10% of teenagers in Utah obese according to StateOfObesity.org), we simply cannot make a dent in the obesity rate with this kind of mentality.
There are only two public places to play Pickleball in Summit County: Trailside Park and Willow Creek Park. And it has really taken off. Currently, 0% of the facility are dedicated to Pickleball. However, two of the tennis courts at each location have Pickleball lines painted on them one of which are incorrectly marked, forcing players to deal with the perimeter fence each play. Pickleball is a social sport where players rotate playing each other, unlike tennis. Willow Creek Park is the chosen location where most Pickleball players gather to play one another.
It is accessible to much of the community with a bike trail and sidewalks intersecting its location, which is not feasible to Trailside Park. Willow Creek Park also has significant parking for this expansion.
Pickleball is a drop-in organized sport where everyone is included and a paddle is even loaned to you to get started at Willow Creek Park. And it's FREE to play thanks to the generosity of Summit County taxpayers. The number of people who have played here are in the hundreds, with an average of 50 players playing each day.
The problem is there are way too few courts with the facility and it is usually so packed that players have long wait times to play shortened games, usually while tennis courts go unused.
With all the groundswell of support with just this, imagine what would happen if this sport really was accessible to all...
Pickleball is big business and is good for Park City. The facility in St. George, is estimated to have several million dollars in economic impact. With players coming from all over the country for Pickleball tournaments in St. George and Brigham City, we certainly could expect similar turnouts with our mild summer weather and beautiful new courts.
What our group, Park City Pickleball, is asking for is dedicated Pickleball courts at Willow Creek Park by resurfacing two tennis courts and creating 8 dedicated Pickleball courts.
We are requesting that a Pickleball complex be funded by one of three options:
a. Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant (UORG). This is a state-funded match-style (25%) grant to “enhance recreational opportunities and amenities in Utah’s communities”. The built recreational infrastructure must provide an economic opportunity for the local area with the ability to attract or retain residents and/or increase the visitation to the region. The maximum that can be rewarded is currently $150,000, well above the $30,000-$40,000 total estimated to resurface the two courts at Willow Creek. The feasibility study needs to be approved by October to give us adequate time to be in next year's UORG grant.
b. Short term bond, no longer than five years.
c. Private donations
5. This facility shall be run by a parks and recreation department but Park City Pickleball is designated as the sole tournament and event provider. We would be put in charge of at least three public events: Summer Slam tournament, a 4th of July tournament and a Fall tournament.
By designating Park City Pickleball as the sole tournament provider, it gives us the ability to approach the businesses to seek corporate sponsorships of courts, tournaments, etc. with Summit County guaranteed a modest percentage of all such sponsorships.
6. Park City Pickleball is given a fair grant to seek tournaments and to start high school Pickleball. If the swimming community had a swimming complex, it is certain all the schools would share practice time and meets there. We would do the same.
This compromise is much less costly than the highly unpopular dedicated Pickleball complex near the Home Depot off Hwy 40. And it would be the finest Pickleball courts within 30 miles.
EVERY player who plays, whether they intended to or not, is helping fight the obesity crisis. Our group motto is "Pickleball for all."
It is time to think of the working class. The active retirees. Bring more summertime sports tourism to our county.
This is the least expensive and best option right now for that land. And if not there, let's get this built elsewhere, granted at a higher financial cost.
Let's get those tournaments here. Let's "get our play on" and give back to our families.
PLEASE SIGN and explain why you want dedicated Pickleball courts here! Please go to County Commission meetings and write letters to the editor of the Park Record.
Let's DO IT!
Eric Wheeler & Kathy Pederson
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