Over the last few years, pickleball has grown in popularity -- not just in the Tri-Valley, but across the country. Now, after months of construction, pickleball fans in Pleasanton have courts to play on in Muirwood Community Park.
"I am so pleased to be here at this historic event for us as we see the opening of these beautiful new pickleball courts here in Pleasanton," Mayor Karla Brown said during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the six new courts last Wednesday.
The ceremony included a demonstration where Brown rallied with members of the Tri-Valley Pickleball Club, who helped city staff facilitate the construction of the courts through several community input meetings.
"Whether it's the fitness benefits, which I'm really out of breath ... or the benefits of just socializing with one another … these courts will enrich the lives of others, as well as the Muirwood community," Brown said.
Robert Beanland, vice president of the Tri-Valley Pickleball Club's Board of Directors, told the crowd of about 40 residents and city staff that Pleasanton really stepped up in providing a much needed amenity to the community.
"As the largest permanently dedicated, open pickleball facility in the entire Tri-Valley, Pleasanton has absolutely stepped up to meet the needs of the citizens of the growing pickleball community with this fabulous sports (facility) here at Muirwood Community Park," Beanland said.
He added that in 2021, pickleball grew to 4.8 million players across the United States, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. He said that it is due to an 11.5% annual growth rate over each of the last five years.
"The Tri-Valley Pickleball Club has tracked over 1,000 people playing on a monthly basis every month on the 12 open public courts here in the Tri-Valley area," Beanland said. "This Muirwood park facility will grow the number of courts by 50% and we expect the number of players to grow even more."
The pickleball club was established as a 501(c)(7) nonprofit back in February and has since grown to 280 members who participate in holding tournaments and introductory clinics.
Plans to construct these courts, which were completed and opened to the public a couple of weeks ago in November, were first brought to the attention of the City Council back in early 2021.
Then, through extensive evaluations and community input gathering, city staff identified Muirwood as the best location for the new courts, according to a staff report from the July 19 council meeting.
"The community engagement process and the advocacy for the sport on behalf of pickleball players in the Tri-Valley helped to inform the City Council … in the rising interest in popularity of the sport and how we need a facility here in Pleasanton," Brown said.
It was during the July 19 meeting that the council allowed staff to move forward with the project and awarded Mauri Construction Company with $442,532 to take two of the four existing tennis courts and build the now six dedicated pickleball courts in the park.
The overall project, which also included resurfacing the existing basketball court and four tennis courts, cost $513,000 but the city only paid just over half of that. The city had $250,000 already available through the capital investment projects funds and also allocated $36,000 from the annual playground renovation capital investment project fund.
The remaining $227,000 came from a Proposition 68 grant that the city had previously applied for in order to fund the project.
"Since the gates opened a few weeks ago, we've seen big crowds here of 40 or more people, all skill levels, all age groups playing together on these amazing courts," Beanland said. "As our membership continues to grow, we look forward to working with even more people in Pleasanton and to further improve their facilities here to help keep pace with the growth here in Pleasanton."