Gulf Shores & Sports Commission will spend $350K to build 12 lighted pickleball courts at Sportsplex

Gulf Shores & Sports Commission will spend $350K to build 12 lighted pickleball courts at Sportsplex
By John Mullen
The City of Gulf Shores is preparing to spend almost $350,000 to expand recreational opportunities for residents and visitors and at the same time add a new opportunity for the 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.”
On board to share the cost of the project is the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission, Brown said. The 12 courts will be built at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex in an unused grassy area next to a parking lot.
“The number of pickleball facilities that are growing within this region and within the southeast is truly amazing,” Brown said. “And if we are able to attract some of those traveling pickleball tournaments the Gulf Shores Orange Beach Sports Commission is willing to help us fund this. They have committed to 50 percent up to $300,000 funding arrangement. So, if we build 12 pickleball courts that are lighted at our Sportsplex they will help us with the construction costs.”
Councilman Philip Harris said having the tourism agency on board means officials there see the potential for attracting tournaments to the city.
“Absolutely a growing sport and a growing demand,” 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.”
To start the process, the council OK’d a $42,000 contract with McKee and Associates, a company Brown said specializes in pickleball courts, for the design of the courts.
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.”
During the meeting, the council:
• OK’d awarding the street resurfacing budget for 2021 to Asphalt Services for $529,977. Streets to be repaved are Wallace Circle, Shady Woods Court, the south portion of Augusta Drive, West Eighth Avenue and West Fairway.
• OK’d franchises for two waste companies, ABM Waste and Rock and Roll Offs. The agreement runs through Dec. 31, 2025.
• OK’d the appointment of Blake Phelps to the Gulf Shores Utilities Board to fulfill the unexpired term of John McCormick who recently passed away. The term ends on April 1, 2023.
• Renewed a contract with Uniti Fiber for services to the city for five years at a cost of $2,510 a month including increasing the speed from 500 MBPS to 1 GBPS and a new 100 MBPS line to Public Works.
• OK’d a five-year lease agreement with Jerry Pate Turf and Irrigation for four specialty mowers to maintain sport turf fields at Sportsplex, baseball parks around town and school practice fields. It will cost the city $48,500 a year and a total cost of $253,000.
• OK’d an assembly permit for the Shaka Beach Bash sand volleyball tournament at Gulf Place Aug. 27-29.
• OK’d an assembly permit for the sixth annual Bloody Mary Run on Sept. 4, the Saturday before Labor Day, at Tacky Jacks in Gulf Shores.
• OK’d the annexation of a home at 19090 Stout Lane which is off of County Road 8 West. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Sheehan wanted to be in the city to be included in the Gulf Shores school system.