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Sunday, June 4, 2023

New pickleball courts slated to begin construction

SUN photo/Randi Pierce
The Pagosa Pickleball Club presents its contribution toward the building of eight new pickleball courts to the Town of Pagosa Springs. Pictured, left to right, are Ronnie Maez, county commissioner; Darren Lewis, town parks and recreation director; and club officers: president Steve Chaney, vice president Al Pfister and secretary/treasurer John Costa.

Pagosa Pickleball Club

The sport of pickleball has been around since the 1960s, but its popularity has grown exponentially over the last two decades. 

For the last 10 years, an annually increasing number of people have been playing pickleball year-round on three courts in the Ross Aragon Community Center. Beginning in 2014, four pickleball courts were established at South Pagosa Park on a concrete surface in significant disrepair which have been heavily used during the warmer months with numbers significantly exceeding the available space. 

The number of players in the Pagosa area has grown to the point that, about four years ago, local residents established the Pagosa Pickleball Club as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which currently consists of more than 250 active members. A significant number of players from other states and even foreign countries also stop over for days, weeks or even months to play pickleball in Pagosa Springs during the warmer months, with many people picking areas to vacation based on the availability of quality pickleball facilities.

Pickleball provides healthy lifestyle opportunities for all ages and is in great demand, especially for second-home and retirement populations. The sport’s user base is gradually expanding toward younger players, thanks to programs in physical education classes in elementary, middle and high schools, and is currently being taught in Pagosa Springs middle and high schools.

Cooperative efforts to attain funding and a location to construct new courts dedicated to pickleball were initiated four to five years ago. In late 2021, those efforts finally came to fruition through a partnership between the Town of Pagosa Springs, Archuleta County, the Pagosa Springs Area Tourism Board and the Pagosa Pickleball Club. The town agreed to provide a location for eight new courts within the newly acquired Yamaguchi South property. The town and Archuleta County each agreed to provide $100,000. The Pagosa Springs Area Tourism Board agreed to provide $150,000. And the Pagosa Pickleball Club raised $100,000 from its members to contribute toward the project for a total of $450,000.

Bids for construction of eight new dedicated pickleball courts were solicited in February. One bid was received from Renner Sport Courts for $362,230, which was within the proposed budget and allowed for the use of remaining funds for needs such as site preparation, shade shelters and seating. The bid was approved by the Pagosa Springs Town Council and awarded in late March. Construction is slated to begin in June or July and be completed within 2.5 to 3 months.

The addition of well-built, dedicated courts will not only fill a rapidly growing recreational need for county residents, but will also provide a venue for tournaments and an attraction to multiday tourism, providing an economic benefit to the community by attracting out-of-town visitors and holding them longer in RV parks, motels, short-term rentals, restaurants and other businesses.

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