Jun 8, 2023 - Sports

Number of pickleball courts in San Francisco fall short of demand

Number of pickleball courts in U.S. cities
Data: Trust for Public Land; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios

San Francisco is actively working to meet the growing demand for pickleball, but a new analysis suggests the city is falling short.

Driving the news: San Francisco has 6.9 pickleball courts for every 100,000 people, but some of them are also used for tennis, according to the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a pro-parks nonprofit.

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

  • There's now about one pickleball court for every 24,000 residents in these cities.

Why it matters: Cities are in a love/hate relationship with pickleball.

  • America's fastest-growing sport is a boon for players who are aging out of tennis — and others who dig its vibe — but it's noisy and draws nonstop complaints from tennis players who've been kicked off their turf.

The intrigue: No cities in California made the top 20. The closest was Riverside at No. 29.

What they're saying: "The cities that have really good park systems tend to be the ones that have a lot of pickleball courts," says Will Klein, associate director of parks research at TPL.

By the numbers: Carl Schmits of USA Pickleball, the sport's governing body, tells Axios there's a critical shortage of pickleball courts given the numbers — 23 million tennis players and 9 million pickleball players in the United States.

  • He says that for every 100 tennis courts, there should be 37 pickleball courts.
  • Instead, there are about 250,000 tennis courts and 44,000 pickleball courts of record in USA Pickleball's 11,000-site database — or about 17.6 pickleball courts per 100 tennis courts.

What to watch: San Francisco's parks department plans to begin construction of new pickleball courts at Larsen Playground near Stern Grove this summer.

  • Meanwhile, the parks department says it will work to identify underutilized public areas that could be used for future dedicated pickleball facilities.
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