New pickleball center moves forward to next steps

The new concept for the proposed Pickleball Center would run along Pine Grove Road, rather than Bangtail Way, as the previous rendering depicted.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The agreement regarding the management of the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center between the city of Steamboat Springs and the new nonprofit Court Sports 4 Life was approved at Tuesday’s Steamboat Springs City Council meeting.

The agreement lays out new terms of managing and operating the existing and planned structures on the land, which the city owns. Approval allows Court Sports 4 Life, the nonprofit taking over responsibility of the property, to move forward with the fundraising needed to build the planned pickleball center.

The contract between the city and Court Sports 4 Life includes a 20-year lease at $1 per year, with an option to renew after that.

Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center, previously the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs, sits on land the city owns and Bill and Loretta were contracted to operate the facility as concessionaires.

The updated concept for the pickleball building is not final and approved by City Council, and won’t be until after zoning and traffic studies and submit the plans to the city.

Construction on the project that costs an anticipated $6 million, won’t begin until 80% of that has been raised. Those funds must be raised by summer 2021. Early fundraising from private donors have generated $1.2 million.

“What I’ve seen through this whole process, the pickleball community is obviously very passionate,” City Council President Jason Lacy said. “In this case, they’re really stepping up in a really big way financially, as well. To be able to get to 80% that shows a huge commitment and made us feel comfortable. … That’s a strong financial commitment that shows they would be ready to finish it from there.”

Ideally, construction could begin as early as fall 2021, with play beginning in fall 2022.

“Now we can go wholeheartedly,” said Ursula Hermacinski, a Capital Campaign Committee member. “The city has signed on the dotted line. Now we can really go to the business community and have commitments because we can commit to them what our intentions are.”

Court Sports 4 Life is researching how much money a pickleball tournament could bring to the local economy, referring to cities with large pickleball centers such as Naples, Florida. The nonprofit hopes to use the same tactics to encourage businesses to contribute to the capital fund.

The new concept for the proposed Pickleball Center would run along Pine Grove Road, rather than Bangtail Way, as the previous rendering depicted.

Hermacinski also believes pickleball will give younger children easy access to a sport, since the opening cost and learning curve of pickleball is so slim. She hopes that’s another appeal to potential donors.

“Pickleball is a very easy game to learn. It’s extremely difficult to master, but for kids, because it’s a shorter court and they’re using a paddle and not a racket, they get to learn and put that ball over the net right away,” said Hermacinski. “It’s a less expensive barrier to entry than tennis. We have big hopes for increasing the children’s community.”

The plan for an additional building for pickleball has been in the works for over a year. Court Sports 4 Life presented its facility idea to City Council in January of this year, after which council members asked for more details regarding the projected cost and usage.

The concept presented in January differs from the most recent rendering. Originally, the new building would run perpendicular to the existing building, along Bangtail Way. It featured 12 indoor courts and six outdoor courts.

The new design runs parallel to the existing building along Pine Grove Road. It too would have 12 indoor courts as well as eight outdoor courts and a viewing mezzanine. The new plan also allows for 24 additional parking spaces as opposed to 16.

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