Cities Grapple With a Pickleball Dilemma

Invented in 1965 by three dads in the Northwest, pickleball has become increasingly popular in recent years. Some cities—like Denver, for example—are struggling to accommodate interest in the sport while also serving the needs of residents who want to play tennis or just enjoy a quiet night at home. Denver’s Channel 7 reported this week that the city’s parks department shut down courts at one park and decided against building new courts at another park, mainly because neighbors say the game is too noisy. This came after the nearby city of Centennial put a moratorium on new courts within 500 feet of a residence. Axios reports that Denver pickleball players aren’t the only enthusiasts struggling to find a place to smack balls around.

The outlet notes faceoffs between tennis players and pickleballers in various cities, including Atlanta and New York. USA Pickleball’s Carl Schmits conceded the sport can be loud enough to bother people who live near courts, but he also expressed suspicion that the tennis community is using noise as a tool to prevent building new courts. Still, pickleball is big in New York City, and a 14-court facility called “CityPickle at Wollman Rink” opened Friday in Central Park, per NBC New York, which has photos of the facilities.

CityPickle plans similar ventures in cities including Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, DC, and Toronto, per Axios. Another sign of the sport’s popularity: Walmart just announced a venture in which it will pay for 125,000 court reservations around the nation for employees and customers, notes Insider. Sign-up is here. Meanwhile, the limitations mentioned in Centennial have caused quite a local controversy, and the Denver Post digs into that. “I will have constant … 10, 12, 16 hours a day of noise,” says one resident who lives near a park. “I will no longer be able to enjoy my deck. We moved to our neighborhood because it is peaceful, because it is quiet.” (Read more pickleball stories.)