NORTH COUNTY — The City of Atascadero officially jumped on the pickleball bandwagon with Council’s approval of four new courts to the Colony Park Community Center.
Pickleball enthusiasts showed up in force at the meeting and cheered when the Council voted unanimously to approve plans for four pickleball courts in the Colony Park Master Plan. Located on Traffic Way, the center provides pickleballers a shared indoor space to play, but the new plans would set aside dedicated spots outside for the sport.
The game has gained a lot of traction in the past few years and has become a professional sport. It is played on a badminton-size court, 20 by 40 feet, with competitors separated by a waist-high net. Using wide-faced paddles, players knock the pickleball back and forth, making sure the ball bounces at least once before their return volley. Mayor Pro Tem Charles Bourbeau explained that what wiffleball is to baseball, pickleball is to tennis.
The proposed courts will be on the west side of the facility between the basketball courts and Atascadero Creek just above the Public Works lift station. Public Works Director Nick Debar told the Council that originally the area was earmarked for a small amphitheater. He felt the courts took precedent and another spot could be found for an outdoor auditorium. Currently, players us the community center’s gym and its basketball courts, but space and availability are limited.
Atascadero Pickleball Club President Barbara Sims said that courts could and do attract players from outside the city limits. She said she occasionally plays at the Paso Robles courts and even Morro Bay. She said it’s a common practice for players to search out pickup games while traveling.
“If we’re out on the road traveling,” Sims said, “we’re definitely looking for a place to play pickleball. We went to Oregon last summer and camped for two weeks and played pickleball in Oregon. We went to Colorado the year before and we played in Colorado. A lot of people plan their vacations around where they can play pickleball.”
Although there is currently no money allocated for the courts in the City’s budget, Sims said that the popularity of the sport brings with it money from outside sources. Sims said the APC formed almost three years ago as a nonprofit organization to help raise funds for the game.
Sims explained that the City’s decision to add courts to the park’s master plan is a big boost for the club. She said people were hesitant to donate to the organization due to the lack of official support from the City.
“That’s why it was huge for us to have that master plan change because now we can tell people that the City is on board,” Sims said. “They’ve changed the designation of the land officially to pickleball.”
The estimated cost of the project is $142,000, with the majority of the expense going to lay the concrete slab, according to a brochure produced by APC. Current estimates do not include outdoor lights. Sims said the club had raised approximately $25,000. She said that the day after the Council meeting, the club received $3,000 from a donor who wished to remain anonymous.