Excitement builds as new Steamboat pickleball facility nears completion
Open house this weekend hopes to show off improvements
Last winter’s heavy snow and continued supply-chain issues have pushed back the progress of an expansion project at the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center that includes the addition of a pickleball facility.
“By next year at this time, it’ll all be done,” said Loretta Conway, the executive director of Court Sports 4 Life, the nonprofit that runs the center. “We would like the public and everyone to be patient with us, because right now it is utter chaos out here. Because construction is happening so quickly, we never know what’s going to be dug up next, or what’s going to be laid down, and we just must be flexible.”
Conway said last winter’s early arrival and heavy snow along with supply-chain issues have delayed the timeline a bit, but she said it has been exciting to see the project move forward. When finished, she expects the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center will have plenty to offer the community.
“I’m very excited,” Conway said of the $11.5 million expansion project she expects to be fully completed by this time next year. “I had hoped we’d be a little further along, and I thought maybe it would all be finished by fall of this year. We are a little behind schedule because of our big winter that arrived early, and that kind of set us back a little bit.”
When completed the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center will feature at total of 12 tennis courts, six indoor and six outdoor, and 20 pickleball courts that include 12 inside the new pickleball facility and eight outdoor. The pickleball facility will also include a welcome center, pro shop, locker rooms, office spaces and a multi-purpose mezzanine for viewing. The current Center building is 45,000 feet and includes six indoor courts.
On Wednesday, May 17, nearly all of the center’s eight new outdoor pickleball courts were full with players. The facility also has four outdoor tennis courts available for play. Older pickleball courts are being converted into two additional tennis courts that will be available later this summer.
As players exchanged shots on the courts, construction crews were hard at work putting in the plumbing, electrical, water and drain lines in preparation for the arrival of a 35,000-square-foot, pre-manufactured building that is expected to arrive in three sections by summer’s end. Conway said plans call for completing a 26-space parking area that should also be finished before fall.
Her hope is that the building will be in place before the snow starts to fly later in the fall, allowing crews to work putting up walls, adding a roof and finishing the inside of the building that will become a base for the local pickleball community.
She said the growth in pickleball has exploded over the past five years and was not slowed by COVID-19.
“You can’t argue the growth — I mean, we’ve had growth in tennis, too, but it’s just not as fast as pickleball,” Conway said. “The revenue of the center has doubled in the last four years because now we have two popular sports and many more people coming. I think it’s going to double again when the building is done, and I believe we’ll probably not have enough room for everybody who wants to play, even with this building. That’s how fast it’s growing.”
Conway said the last work will take place through the winter with hopes the project will be completed by late-spring 2024. However, she added that parts of the building, including the indoor pickleball courts, could be available for use before that time. Court Sports 4 Life is still in the process of fundraising to reach its financial goals. Conway said the group still needs $800,000 to completely fund the expansion and is hopeful that those efforts will see a boost as the center begins to take shape this summer.
“This is going to be a fantastic facility, especially for a small town like ours,” Conway said. “To have it is incredible. We are doing this because we never wanted to see anyone try to take it away or change it into something different like condominiums or a shopping center.”
This coming Saturday, May 20, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Conway is inviting residents to come out and have a sneak peek during a free open house. Use of the courts will be free during the open house, and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. professionals will be on hand to offer tips and show people how to play the game. There will be prizes, music and information about the new center and what it offers.
“If people are curious about what we’re doing, they can come over and we’re going to have an information table and talk about the construction,” Conway said. “They can also they can find out about summer camps and drills and anything they want.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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