Pay to Play
Starting in January 2020, you will have to pay to play pickleball at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center. This is because pickleball there happens in the morning before the center officially opens at noon. Since Seattle Parks &Rec (SPR) department has decided to stop funding all drop-in activities that previously took place outside of community center normal operating hours, the options offered were to (1) start charging, (2) move pickleball to the afternoon if the gym is available, or (3) cancel pickleball. Unfortunately, extending the operating hours to the morning was not among the options given. The Ravenna-Eckstein staff opted for option #1.
Rumor has it that Hiawatha’s Friday pickleball will also become pay-to-play starting January 2020. Check with the community center staff to confirm.
The Seattle Metro Pickleball Association (SMPA) requested that SPR ask players to pay each time they come play as is done in most other cities, but the Parks Department chose instead to ask players to prepay $33 to get access to Monday pickleball at Ravenna-Eckstein during the winter, plus $33 if you want to play Wednesdays and/or $33 for Fridays. The fee at Hiawatha will probably be $36.
Want more pickleball? Rent a gym!
The official word from the Seattle Parks Department’s Recreation Division Director, Justin Cutler (firstname.lastname@example.org), regarding indoor pickleball is still that the Parks Department is not going to provide more indoor pickleball in 2020. If you want more indoor pickleball, you should create a league or other organization that rents community center gyms when they are available and charge players accordingly. Without going into too much detail, there is one business doing just that, and they end up having to charge participants about $15 per hour of pickleball. SMPA asked that pickleball players be treated more like Seattle tennis players who pay a court fee when they choose to play at either of the two indoor tennis centers
For 2021, SPR is considering additional hours at the community centers for all court sports, including pickleball. This is a result of the Parks’ upcoming new 12-year strategic plan, according to Justin Cutler.
Meanwhile, it is no secret that some Seattle community center directors are happy to see their gyms used by pickleball players rather than sit empty. If your community center offers more pickleball than expected, make sure you that you express your appreciation to the staff.
Want more pickleball? Build your own facility!
Yep. That’s what they said. And that is probably what will happen eventually. Probably outside of Seattle. Around these parts, it’s pickleball for the well-to-do.
Welcome Athletics Coordinators!
The Lifelong Recreation unit of the Seattle Parks Department has been hosting citywide indoor pickleball program management for many years. We are told that starting on the first day of January 2020, this task will be transferred to the athletics coordinators. That is all we know so far on the subject, and don’t know how it will affect the pickleball skills and intro classes offered by Lifelong Recreation.
Drop-in and wait
It is not unusual for players to have to spend more time waiting than playing in several Seattle community centers. It gets to the point that some players leave rather than deal with the wait. We don’t expect this to get any better soon. Maybe when the SPR Community Center digital check-in system is finally in place, we will be allowed to see which locations have fewer players so we can adjust where we choose to play.
Since pickleball’s popularity is growing rapidly nationwide, the greater Seattle area population is growing faster than the national average, and the greater Seattle area senior population is growing even faster. That means you can expect this situation to get significantly worse every year unless something changes.
Notably, Edmonds limits the number of pickleball players to 20 per session at the Frances Anderson Center. That is common in our Canadian neighbors’ Rec Centers, for example Surrey and Pitt Meadows in BC. Of course, our Canadian friends have 6 to 8 indoor courts, too.
Bellevue, Kirkland, Edmonds
While Seattle put the brakes on indoor pickleball, Bellevue, Kirkland, and Edmonds are pressing the accelerator:
- Bellevue now offers free indoor pickleball at the Crossroads Community Center.
- Kirkland started offering indoor pickleball at the North Kirkland Community Center.
- Edmonds is increasing its offering of indoor pickleball at the Frances Anderson Center.
First, they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you, saying that pickleball is for old folks.
Then they get mad at you for creatively repurposing underused facilities so you can play pickleball.
Then they paint pickleball lines on some tennis courts.
Then they provide pickleball nets to go with the pickleball lines.
Then they create dedicated pickleball courts.
As explained in that article, Seattle’s Pickleball Pilot Study report recommends two sites to be considered for dedicated pickleball courts: Cowen Park and Magnuson Park.
Since this article was published, Seattle Parks Department has issued a first draft of its upcoming 12-year Strategic Plan .
We want to thank all of you who took the time to advocate for pickleball by attending the numerous Seattle Parks outreach programs, such as the “Parks & Rec Fests” in June 2019 and by engaging on social media where you were asked endlessly for your big ideas. Due to your efforts and perseverance, this first draft says that the Parks Department will “get the most out of our current parks and facilities by converting single-use spaces into multi-functional spaces in order to serve more people within our system, including converting tennis courts into multi-sport courts, adding additional paved pathways, and updating parks to meet changing community needs.” Unfortunately, the plan doesn’t specify how they will convert tennis courts into multi-sport courts, and the devil is in the details. We can only hope it will result in good things for pickleball players.
Things are moving fast at the Shoreline Parks Department. A year ago, they offered no pickleball courts. Last summer they painted lines for six pickleball courts on two tennis courts at Shoreview Park. We hear they will line more tennis courts for pickleball play at the Shoreline Park this coming spring. These new courts will be lighted so as to allow for evening play.
Auburn, Bellevue, Edmonds, Kirkland, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish
Meanwhile, Auburn, Bellevue, Edmonds, Kirkland, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish all have dedicated pickleball courts. If you haven’t made your way to Kirkland to enjoy the dedicated pickleball courts just off 405 and 85th at Everest Park, get there. Play continues through the winter, barring ice and snow. That’s just how we roll where pickleball is concerned.