The City of Moose Jaw, Sask., announced on Tuesday that construction of new pickleball courts is underway.
The city’s new project comes in collaboration with Pickleball Moose Jaw, with the two sides signing a licence agreement for six new outdoor courts outside the Kinsmen Sportsplex. These will be Moose Jaw’s first outdoor courts.
“We’ve seen a large spike in interest in Moose Jaw, people playing in different locations. This is a chance for us as a club to pull people together to have a common place to play,” said Dave Richards, Pickleball Moose Jaw’s vice-chairperson.
Pickleball is known as one of North America’s fastest-growing sports. It’s a cross between tennis, ping pong and badminton, played with a small paddle and a plastic ball. Moose Jaw currently boasts over 200 pickleball players, a number that continues to grow rapidly.
The new $285,000 facility is anticipated to be complete by July 31 and was approved by Moose Jaw city council as part of their 2022 budget. The agreement between the city and the club includes exclusive use times and rates for Pickleball Moose Jaw members, while ensuring that time is allotted for city programming and drop-in use by the general public.
The agreement also includes provisions in which Pickleball Moose Jaw will be contributing to future facility improvements and expansion.
“The community asked for it and I’m really excited that the city was able to respond and create this so quickly,” said Moose Jaw mayor Clive Tolley. “I understand that people were playing at a number of indoor facilities and they’ll just be excited and happy to get out of those indoor facilities and play out here in the summer.”
One of those pickleball enthusiasts eagerly waiting for the new courts is Bradley Rose. He started playing pickleball last summer after a friend invited him to play. He says a couple nights playing quickly turned into three days a week of pickleball.
“I think it’s going to be great. I think it’s an opportunity for people to get active, people to get outside and enjoy the weather,” Rose said.
“I think it’s also a great opportunity to bring events to Moose Jaw…so I hope to see that benefit and keep people active.”
Pickleball has been quickly increasing in popularity in southern Saskatchewan lately. Just last month, Regina played host to over 260 players at the Saskatchewan Pickleball Provincial Championship, the largest player pool ever in the province’s pickleball history.
And it’s continuing to grow. In the last five years, Pickleball Regina says they grew from 30 members to over 900.
“Just about everybody you talk to that’s taken up this sport has been very passionate about it and they find that it’s addicting,” said Allan Carpentier, a Pickleball Regina board of directors member.
“Most people that come up to you say ‘where can I play, how do I get involved, what can I do here, what can I do there?’…People love to go out and have fun and it’s a great form of exercise.”
The Queen City Pickleball Hub in Regina has also seen 1,400 different people playing the sport since last October. The hub also offers introductory lessons for any new players.