What is pickleball? Find out what it is. The pickleball crowd isn’t exactly akin to a biker gang.
They show up in shorts rather than leathers carrying backpacks rather than chain wallets.
But show up they do, in huge numbers on weekday mornings at county parks to play the game that has taken over, literally.
At Veterans Community Park on Immokalee Road, for instance, pickleball has supplanted tennis during most park hours.
The four lighted tennis courts at the park become eight pickleball courts with the help of portable nets and lines painted over the tennis boundaries.
2019 photos: U.S. Open Pickleball Party at East Naples Community Park
Players wait for pickleball courts to open at East Naples Community Park, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (Photo: Patrick Riley)
That’s in addition to the eight dedicated pickleball courts across the parking lot.
East Naples Community Park has 54 courts. Still, players outnumber the four available spots on each court.
Keeping track of who’s next up and on which court takes some doing.
Since the pickleball set is generally a genteel group, it is largely a self-policing affair.
But you can see the need for fees to support the staff required to keep things running smoothly.
How high should those fees be? Part of the problem is there is nothing quite like Collier County’s pickleball experience to go by.
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According to county Parks and Recreation Director Barry Williams, the East Naples site has more courts in one place than anywhere in the state.
Proposed fee increases in the 67% to 100% range for residents caught the attention of county commissioners last month.
Increases for non-residents would be even more eye-popping, from $50 to $150 for an annual membership at one of the two parks covered by the fees.
Commissioners tabled the idea of fee increases until later in the spring.
That should give staff and the vendor that collects and keeps most of the fee revenue, Pickleball Enterprises, time to arrive at the proper amount.