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Supply meets demand: City of Austin gets creative with addressing need for pickleball courts

The city is repurposing and combining tennis courts and basketball courts with pickleball courts as the popularity of the sport grows.

AUSTIN, Texas — Now more than ever, land is at a premium in the city of Austin.

This poses a problem for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department when it comes to addressing a growing demand: a space to play the sport of pickleball.

Sights like the ones at Hancock Recreation Center and South Austin Recreation Center are pretty common: pickleball courts sharing the same space as tennis and basketball courts.

RELATED: KVUE announces partnership with Major League Pickleball

Ricardo Soliz, the division manager over park planning for Austin Parks and Rec, told KVUE this allows the City to meet the need for a growing pickleball appetite, while also helps to keep costs down.

"It's cost-effective for us," he said. "Building a tennis court itself can start anywhere from $50,000 if you have the real estate. Converting it to another use or multi-use is ideal for us."

"It's tough for us because of our limited dollars for acquisition particularly in the inner city," Soliz added. "Buying land we're competing with developers or real estate projects. Buying any acre of land is really costly for us ... Converting these courts in existing parks is one efficient way of dealing with the demand of pickleball."

Across the rest of Central Texas, you'll find more pickleball-specific courts.

Cedar Park is home to four outdoor courts at Veterans Memorial Park and six indoor courts at the Cedar Park Recreation Center.

A membership at the rec center is $15 while securing a key to unlock the courts at Veterans Memorial Park is an $18 annual fee for Cedar Park residents and $36 for non-residents.

Georgetown is also home to a thriving pickleball community.

In fact, that's where the Central Texas Ambassador for USA Pickleball, Chuck Flanagan, calls home.

"We started with four courts. They built two more. Right now they're in the process of constructing 16 outdoor lighted courts. They'll be ready in time for Christmas we hope. With room for 10 more," Flanagan said.

Speaking of construction, the space problem that Austin faces could soon be solved thanks to Tim Klitch and Austin Pickle Ranch.

"We're going to have 33 Pickle Ball courts ... And I think it's going to be a really uniquely Austin place," Klitch said.

Austin Pickle Ranch is set to become the biggest pickleball set-up in the state and will include 16 covered courts to allow for play rain or shine, as well as sand volleyball courts, a 2-acre lawn area and a beer garden.

"What we'll end up with is a uniquely Austin mix of somewhere fun to hangout that you can exercise and be social. I think that's what Austin is at its core," Klitch said.

They plan to break ground at the start of next year.


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