Feature Article - March 2013
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Out of the Ordinary

Make Way for Some Unexpected & Unusual Sports

By Dawn Klingensmith

Building Facilities

In St. George, Utah, support for pickleball is such that $80,000 in funding was secured to build a 12-court facility with regulation courts, completed in October 2012. That brings the current tally to 20 city-owned pickleball courts, with plans to build 12 more. To host a national tournament, the city must have a total of 24. "If we can hold tournaments, if we can draw people from out of town, that means more tax dollars for the city and more money for us," Rosander said.

Meanwhile, in nearby Salt Lake City, residents can't persuade city officials to build regulation pickleball courts, prompting a City Weekly reporter to pen a June 2012 editorial, "SLC's Pickle-Ball Problem: Why No Funds for Blossoming Sport?"

The question begets another question: When do facilities go from offering unusual or emerging sports as novelties to providing facilities dedicated to these sports, should they prove popular?

Usually, community demand determines the tipping point. In St. George, residents introduced to pickleball through senior housing started pressuring the city council for public courts once demand exceeded available playing space. And once the city made pickleball a priority, it became a tourist attraction and potential revenue generator, via national tournaments. Seniors roaming cross-country in RVs plan stops around pickleball, Rosander said, and their presence and spending benefit St. George.

At the same time, the perennially packed state of the futsal court alongside the city's first pickleball courts indicated to the city that it was time to build a second futsal facility to serve its growing Latino population.

Currently, St. George is considering a BMX park because the cyclists are using the skatepark, which could potentially cause problems.