Construction starts on 12 pickleball courts at Gulf Shores Sportsplex
The City of Gulf Shores will host a groundbreaking ceremony for its highly-anticipated pickleball courts on June 22 at 10 a.m. at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex.
The 12 outdoor, lighted pickleball courts will be located on the east side of Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex.
In addition to the inside courts at the Church of Christ and lighted courts at OneClub in Gulf Shores, pickleball players have been utilizing the gymnasium at the Cultural Center and the outdoor basketball courts for play, limiting court availability on city owned property. It will also allow for an increase in the number of tourist dollars generating tourneys.
The courts will be located east of Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium, and will share the parking lot with the varsity baseball field. The courts should be ready for play by this December.
Funding for the $782,000 project will be split 50/50 by the City of Gulf Shores and Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. Pickleball is a burgeoning sports tourism market on the Alabama Gulf Coast.
“It’s an opportunity we feel strongly needs to move forward both expansion of our recreation opportunities to the northern part of our city,” Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director Grant Brown said. “It satisfies a very strong pent-up demand for pickleball and the opportunity to bring in traveling pickleball players in the off-season which is a great advantage for the city.”
“Absolutely a growing sport and a growing demand,” Councilman Philip Harris said. “With the participation of our sports tourism that also shows you the demand that they believe is there and looking forward to getting that started.”
Sports Commission Vice President Michelle Russ said when the facility is complete her team can start pursuing tournaments.
“Pickleball is one the fastest-growing sports in the country, and the city of Gulf Shores’ efforts to build new courts extends our ability to bid on and host more pickleball events,” Russ said. “Sports tourism’s economic impact in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach helps our local cities improve and enhance facilities, benefitting both residents and families traveling for events.”
After looking all around the city, Brown said he and the Recreation Committee agreed the Sportsplex was the ideal location for the new complex.
“We looked at Meyer Park, we looked at Simms Park, we looked at the potential new piece of property at Coastal Gateway Boulevard that a community park is being planned,” Brown said. “All roads led back to the Gulf Shores Sportsplex. There is an area of grass just east of an improved asphalt parking lot that is utilized by the baseball fields and football season. It just so happens that on that grassy piece of property 12 pickleball courts will fit perfectly. We already have parking established, we have easy access to utilities.”