Aug 13, 2023 - Sports

Colorado cities are in a love-hate relationship with pickleball

Pickleball players at Smoky Hill Metropolitan District Court in Centennial. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The pop-pop-pops of pickleball β€” one of the fastest-growing sports in America β€” are becoming more prevalent in Colorado as people continue to jump on the bandwagon.

Why it matters: Cities like Denver are in a love-hate relationship with the sport, Axios' Jennifer A. Kingson reports.

  • Pickleball is a boon for players who are aging out of tennis, but it's noisy for neighbors and draws complaints from tennis players who've been kicked off their courts.

State of play: Denver officials are adding six more pickleball courts at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, for a total of 10, which will be the biggest concentration of courts in the city, 9News reports. There are currently more than two dozen courts in operation citywide.

  • The additions are part of a pilot project to determine whether a pickleball complex could be successful at MLK Park. The move comes after the city shut courts down in Congress Park earlier this year due to noise complaints.

Meanwhile, the city is exploring several other spots to install new courts, including Burns and Rosamond parks, as well as Lowry Sports Complex.

  • Denver Parks & Recreation has also formed an advisory committee to assist with challenges around the sport, from noise mitigation to snow removal.
Number of pickleball courts in U.S. cities
Data: Trust for Public Land; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios

By the numbers: Denver had 3.8 pickleball courts per 100,000 people as of late May, ranking 57th in the country, according to the Trust for Public Land, a pro-parks nonprofit.

  • Colorado Springs ranked 36th with 6.3 courts per capita, and Aurora came in 48th with 4.5.

Zoom in: Denver Parks & Recreation has outdoor courts at Bear Valley, Eisenhower, Huston Lake and Martin Luther King Jr. parks; Northfield Athletic Complex; and Skyline Park through Sept. 30.

  • A map of indoor courts is also available on the city's website.

Zoom out: City leaders in Glendale are pushing an ordinance that would make it illegal to mark the surface of a tennis court with additional temporary or permanent lines, per the Denver Post. The measure would be the first of its kind in Colorado.

  • The goal is to put a stop to people poaching tennis courts for pickleball play.

What they're saying: "We have not heard of anything like this," Carl Schmits with USA Pickleball, the sport's governing body, told the Post. "In every case of municipally controlled courts, that entity controls use and multi-use of those assets."

Yes, but: Glendale isn't leaving pickleball players high and dry. It's currently finalizing four new outdoor pickleball courts at Glendale Park, expected to open next month.

Of note: Earlier this year, Centennial temporarily banned the construction of new outdoor pickleball courts near homes to study noise impacts.

The big picture: TPL data shows there's been more than a sixfold increase in the number of public pickleball courts in the 100 biggest U.S. cities since 2017 β€” from 420 to 2,788 β€” but municipal leaders say they still can't come close to meeting demand from pickleheads.

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