Pickleball Courts Q&A

Q: What is the Seattle Parks department going to do about the sand that suddenly appeared on the East Green Lake pickleball (and tennis) courts?

A: The East Green Lake pickleball courts were resurfaced at the end of summer 2020. By early December 2020, SMPA documented and shared pickleball players’ concerns regarding sand, cracks, holes and poor court line visibility with the Seattle Parks department.

The Seattle Parks Department has verbally agreed to bring up these issues with the contractor and get them resolved as soon as the weather permits. In the Pacific Northwest, court resurfacing only happens from May to September as the work requires both dry weather and warm enough temperatures. This means that we will have to wait at least until May to see any resolution.


Q: Bitter Lake was just resurfaced and the surface is already falling apart. What’s up with that?

A: The Bitter Lake pickleball courts were resurfaced at the end of summer 2020. By the end of December 2020, SMPA documented and shared pickleball players concerns regarding sand, cracks, surface wear on these courts with the Seattle Parks department.

So far the Seattle Parks Department has said that they “will take a look at these courts and see whether the conditions warrant action.”


Q: There used to be 8 pickleball courts at Green Lake, now there are only 6. What happened?

A: There is enough room for 10 regulation-sized pickleball courts at Green Lake and that is what SMPA had recommended to the Seattle Parks department.

Unfortunately, the Seattle Parks department chose to only paint lines for 6 pickleball courts. Their reasoning is that it makes it easier for them to rent courts if there is a direct correspondence between tennis and pickleball courts. Suffice it to say that the city of Shoreline managed to paint 6 pickleball courts on 2 tennis courts and that doesn’t seem to impede their court rental.

On the picture below, slide the blue dot towards the left to compare the 10-court layout SMPA recommended to the 6-court layout the Seattle Parks department chose.

Waiting area 7′ 5′ 8′ 8′ 8′ 8′ 6′ 8′ 8′ 8′ 8′
18′ 27′ 27′ 18′ 8′ 8′ 8′ 8′

And about the 8-court layout in the original question: There indeed used to be 2 official pickleball courts and 6 unofficial ones marked by pickleball players for a total of 8-courts.


Q: Why are the Bitter Lake pickleball courts so far apart?

A: There is enough room for 12 regulation-sized pickleball courts at Bitter Lake and that is what SMPA has recommended to the Seattle Parks department.

Unfortunately, the Seattle Parks department chose to only paint lines for 8 pickleball courts. Their reasoning is that it makes it easier for them to rent courts if there is a direct correspondence between tennis and pickleball courts. Suffice it to say that the city of Shoreline managed to paint 6 pickleball courts on 2 tennis courts and that doesn’t seem to impede their court rental.

On the picture below, slide the blue dot towards the left to compare the 12-court layout SMPA recommended to the 8-court layout the Seattle Parks department chose.

Waiting area Waiting area 7.5′ 5′ 10′ 10′ 10′ 10′ 10′ 5′ 7.5′ 8′ 8′ 8′ 8′
20′ 25′ 25′ 25′ 20′ 8′ 8′ 8′ 8′

Q: On which Seattle tennis courts will we see pickleball court lines next?

A:

  • Garfield Playfield: 2 tennis courts by Garfield High School and the Garfield Community Center
  • Magnolia Playfield: 2 tennis courts by the Magnolia Community Center
  • Meadowbrook Playfield: 6 tennis courts by Nathan Hale High school and the Meadowbrook community center.
    Read the SMPA’s Resurfacing recommendations for these courts.
  • Rainier Playfield: 4 tennis courts by the Rainier Community Center

Source: Pickleball Pilot Study Report, section G.1.


Q: The public outdoor tennis courts in my Seattle neighborhood do not have pickleball lines. How do I begin the process of requesting these courts to be lined for pickleball?

A: If the courts are listed in the answer to the previous question, you don’t need to do anything, except urging the Seattle Parks department to speed up its court lining process.

If your neighborhood courts are not listed, there is no official way to introduce a request. Here is what you can do:

  • Assemble a group of citizens supporting your cause and start pleading your case.
  • Contact us, the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association. We can:
    • Help you develop a list of contacts.
    • Assist with messaging.
    • Assist with court lining designs.
    • Meet with your group and get the word out to the pickleball community.
  • Contact the Amy Yee Tennis Center Administrators.
  • Contact the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners.
  • Contact the Parks Department’s superintendent’s office.

Q: The public outdoor tennis courts in my neighborhood outside of Seattle do not have pickleball lines. How do I begin the process of requesting these courts to be lined for pickleball?

A: You will first have to find out who the courts belong to, most likely your Parks Department or your School district. If the courts belong to your Parks department, read their latest “Parks and Open Space Plan” to see if there already is a plan in place. Assemble a group of citizens supporting your cause and start pleading your case.

If you live in the Greater Seattle Area, feel free to contact the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association.


Q: The public outdoor pickleball courts in my neighborhood do not have pickleball nets. How do I begin the process of requesting pickleball nets?

A: Your city might offer a “community development grant”. In Seattle, the Department of Neighborhood offers Neighborhood Matching Funds that you might be able to leverage. This is how Seattle’s first three semi-permanent nets were acquired.

If the courts where the nets will be installed are located next to a community center, talk to the Community Center director. Typically, community centers will have (limited) discretionary funds that they can spend on whatever they want.

In Seattle, “The Associated Recreation Council” (which most of us have never heard of) in partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation serves Seattle by offering a variety of recreational and lifelong learning programs, classes and activities. It has 36 Advisory Councils that represent concerned citizens, from across Seattle, and advocate for the success of local and citywide recreation services for all people. You can ask your local council for help. You might also be able to donate money earmarked for pickleball nets to your local council.

Finally, you can start a fund-raising campaign to buy semi-permanent nets as Shoreline pickleball players successfully did at the end of 2020. Start by getting the approval of the owner of the courts. If the nets are going to be in the Greater Seattle Area, the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association might be able to offer help with online fund raising and fiscal sponsorship for matching gifts from employers.


Q: How come my Parks department’s budget doesn’t include any money for pickleball (lines, nets, indoor, …)?

A: It is possible that they have a budget for multi-sport courts and fields, but they do not allocate money for any specific sport in particular. More likely, if they have a golf course, they do have money allocated for specific sports.

The fact that pickleball is not included in their budget does not invalidate your request. If it is their mission to provide recreation for all citizens, you might be able to convince them that there is much demand for pickleball facilities and to adapt their budget accordingly.


Q: How come my Parks department has a tennis budget but it doesn’t have any money for pickleball (lines, nets, indoor, …)?

People have been asking your Parks department to support tennis for probably over 50 years. By now, they might even be running a tennis center or two.

How long have pickleball players been asking your Parks department for support? Probably a lot less longer.

While this might explain the current lack of pickleball funds, it does not justify it. It is up to pickleball players to make their case for adequate funding.

To illustrate this point, here are a few tennis projects funded by the Seattle Parks District between 2015 to 2019 for instance:

ProjectCost
Renovate sewer and drainage system at the Laurelhurst Playfield Tennis Courts$179,860
Amy Yee Tennis Ctr Automatic Sprinkler Protection$372,197
Amy Yee Tennis Ctr. – Parking; ADA Remediation$1,536,285
Amy Yee Tennis Center Exterior PaintingIn progress
Total:Over $2 million

We couldn’t find any funding from the Parks District for pickleball during the same period.

Will the next Seattle Parks District Budget include funds for pickleball? It will not, unless we advocate for it.

While you might expect your Parks department to treat all sports evenly, it might have an institutional bias in favor of tennis over pickleball. This is more likely to be the case if your Parks department has employees whose job evaluation is tied to their ability to promote tennis and to make sure that public tennis courts are not used for anything but tennis.

Again, while this might explain the current lack of pickleball funds, it does not justify it. It is up to pickleball players to make their case for adequate funding.


Q: Will my Parks Department ever have money for pickleball?

Different Parks Departments respond differently to citizens’ requests.

The Kirkland Parks department surveyed its citizens during summer 2018 and found out that people were asking for pickleball courts. By summer 2019, it had transformed its Everest tennis court into three dedicated pickleball courts. Thank you, Kirkland Parks!

The Shoreline Parks department, in 2017 projected that by 2035 there would be a citywide demand for 4 pickleball courts.

Nevertheless, by 2020 they had set aside their earlier projections and painted lines for 18 pickleball courts on existing tennis courts. Thank you, Shoreline Parks!

In contrast, Bothell received many requests for more pickleball facilities as part of their 2020 Parks and Open Spaces Plan. Nonetheless, they kicked the pickleball can down the road until 2026 according to this slide:

So, yes: Your Parks department will have money to spend on pickleball as soon as it finds the will to serve its pickleball community. Where there is a will, there is a way as demonstrated by Shoreline, Kirkland, and parks departments all over the country.


Q: Has any other sport ever been in the same predicament?

How about skateboarding? At some point, there were no skate(board)parks and the Seattle Parks department did not have a skatepark budget. Nonetheless, Seattle Parks went from “we don’t have any money” to “let’s build skateparks”. Seattle now has about a dozen skateparks.