Related Place: Pickleball Courts at Pier Park

Pickleball courts give recreational, economic boost to Grand Island, Nebraska

Grand Island could get a big economic boost along with improvements in its quality of life with the city’s plan to add eight pickleball courts to the Veterans Sports Complex.

Earlier this month the City Council accepted JEO Consulting Group’s proposal to design the pickleball courts at a cost of $26,300. It’s estimated that construction of the courts will cost between $300,000 and $400,000.

The community’s Pickleball Club has already raised $70,000 to go toward the project. Grand Island food and beverage tax proceeds will also be used to pay for the project.

The city has already heavily invested in youth sports facilities with soccer, baseball and softball teams playing at the complex, but the addition of pickleball courts will provide recreational facilities for the community’s older population. Pickleball can be played by all ages, but it has especially caught on with older people. About 75% of pickleball players are age 55 or older.  Pickleball provides physical exercise and is a great tool to allow people to socialize with others. Those are two critical elements for older people, whose population is on the rise, especially as people live longer.  It is a paddleball sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Two or four players use solid paddles to hit a ball, similar to a wiffle ball, over a net.  Pickleball’s popularity has grown quickly in the Grand Island area, with the local club having up to 300 members at one time. Another sign of pickleball’s growing popularity is that the Grand Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and Fonner Park have partnered to sponsor pickleball tournaments in December and February at the Heartland Events Center.  That’s where the economic boost comes in as the tournaments have the possibility of drawing thousands of people from throughout Nebraska and surrounding states to Grand Island. Those visitors will be staying at local motels, eating in local restaurants and shopping at local stores, all adding to the prosperity of Grand Island’s economy.  Concern was expressed at the council meeting about using the tax proceeds for a sport that could be considered a fad that will fade away before long. But, like in the movie “Field of Dreams,” Grand Island will likely find that, if we build the courts, the players will come.


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