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Fans Demand For More Pickleball Courts in Baxter

Fans Demand For More Pickleball Courts: In Baxter, a growing demand for more opportunities to play pickleball has aroused a plea from local residents to expand court facilities. In June, Bud Reponen approached the Baxter City Council, advocating for additional pickleball courts within the city. Highlighting the active involvement of the local pickleball community in fundraising efforts, Reponen underlines the pressing need for more dedicated spaces.

Currently, Loren Thompson Park houses the city’s existing pickleball courts, which are frequently in use. Reponen also pointed out the potential for utilizing a tennis court for pickleball, albeit with logistical challenges such as the availability of nets and court sharing issues with other players. Despite these difficulties, Reponen acknowledged that this makeshift arrangement occasionally proves practicable.

Discussing the concept of combination tennis and pickleball courts, Reponen focused the differing net requirements between the two sports: taller and differently shaped for tennis, and lower and straighter for pickleball. He noted specific challenges, such as court orientation affecting gameplay due to sun exposure at Southdale’s east-west facing court, impacting morning and evening play times.

Pickleball’s popularity gush in Baxter and nationwide, once seen primarily among seniors, now attracts a diverse range of ages, including children, contributing to high demand and limited court availability. To manage this, retired residents coordinate schedules, alternating play days at Thompson Park, while also navigating shared court usage with other players.

“Kind of what we’re asking, is there a way that we could work with the city to get more pickleball courts in the city of Baxter, like other communities are expanding.” – (Reponen)

In Baxter, the push for more pickleball courts has gained momentum, with Bud Reponen outlining the logistical needs and community efforts behind the expansion. Reponen specified that six properly laid out courts would require 1.2 acres, highlighting Oscar Kristofferson Park as a promising site due to existing facilities like restrooms and parking. Notably, fundraising efforts are already underway, bolstered by support from the Eagles club, demonstrating widespread community backing for the project.

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Pickleball’s popularity is palpable throughout the region, evidenced by the Brainerd MN Pickleball League’s robust membership on social media and utilization of Gregory Park for play. Coordination among players is facilitated by tools like the PlayTime Scheduler, enhancing scheduling efficiency and community engagement. Recently, the establishment of the Pickleball Court Expansion Brd/Bxt/EGL Facebook group underlines the growing demand and collaborative spirit among enthusiasts across neighboring communities.

Elsewhere, the Isle Area Pickleball Association celebrated a milestone with the grand opening of new courts, showcasing a model of community-driven initiative. Utilizing the Playtime Scheduler, the association manages court usage efficiently, supporting over 200 players year-round. Their comprehensive programs include beginner lessons, family play initiatives, and recreational offerings, signifying pickleball’s role in promoting community spirit and engagement.

“Our vision is to make Isle a destination location for recreational and competitive players to gather and enjoy friendly competition.” – (association)

Cuyuna Lakes Pickleball, a nonprofit organization and registered 501(c)(3) public charity, serves as a hub for players from Crosby, Ironton, and Deerwood, showcasing a community-driven commitment to the sport. In a significant collaboration with the city of Ironton, the association marked a pivotal moment in 2022 with the construction of a dedicated six-court pickleball center. This initiative represents a leap forward from their earlier use of the high school tennis court dating back to 2018, underscoring their dedication to providing quality facilities for local players.

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“The growth of the sport necessitated that we develop our own center to accommodate the increasing interest and participation in our region.” – (Cuyuna Lakes Association)

Kevin Dens, a presence at the meeting alongside Bud Reponen, highlighted his stake in Baxter despite not residing there, owning four properties within the community. Expressing appreciation, Dens mentioned emailing Mayor Darrel Olson, acknowledging his responsiveness to community concerns. Reflecting on ongoing discussions spanning two to three years, he proposed initiating dialogue through the Parks Commission to identify suitable land and outline a structured approach for development planning and fundraising efforts.

“We would certainly love to partner with Baxter in doing this. There are 36.5 million people in the United States that play pickleball now as of 2022. The largest age group, you would think they’d be old, but the largest age group is 18 to 34 — that’s 28.8% of the people that play pickleball.” – (Dens)

Kevin Dens, adding to the discussion, pointed out a striking 223% increase in growth over the past three years, coinciding with the challenges of the pandemic. Looking ahead, he highlighted a projected growth rate of 7.7% anticipated through 2028, underscoring the dynamic changes and future prospects shaping Baxter’s community development landscape.

“It’s the fastest growing sport in America. It’s fun. It’s social.” – (Dens)

Looking ahead in their budgeting discussions, Kevin Dens outlined plans to prepare initiatives within the next year or two, focusing the immediate goal of identifying a suitable site for future construction efforts. Mayor Darrel Olson acknowledged and appreciated the specifics shared, highlighting ongoing studies that indicate potential space at Oscar Kristofferson Park for two pickleball courts.

Council member Jeff Phillips, residing close by to Loren Thompson Park, contributed insights into seasonal park usage dynamics. Phillips noted the winter popularity of hockey and observed that during summer months, pickleball dominates park activities, surpassing other recreational pursuits in popularity and community engagement.

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News in Brief: Fans Demand For More Pickleball Courts

In Baxter, demand for pickleball courts has surged, prompting community efforts for expansion. Bud Reponen and Kevin Dens advocated to the City Council, citing logistical needs and rising popularity among diverse age groups.

Current courts at Loren Thompson Park face high usage, prompting consideration of new sites like Oscar Kristofferson Park. Collaborative efforts with local groups and support from the Eagles club highlight community backing.

Elsewhere, neighboring associations like Isle Area and Cuyuna Lakes showcase successful models of dedicated pickleball facilities, reflecting the sport’s growth and community engagement in the region. Future plans focus on site selection and fundraising for additional courts to meet increasing demand.

Our Reader’s Queries

Q. Is pickleball the fastest growing sport?

A. According to the SFIA report, pickleball remains the fastest-growing sport in the United States, expanding by 51.8% from 2022 to 2023 and an impressive 223.5% since 2020.

Q. Is pickleball a competitive sport?

A. Pickleball offers a fun, social, and friendly experience with straightforward rules that are easy for beginners to grasp. It can evolve into a fast-paced, competitive game over time.

Q. Can 1 person play pickleball?

A. Pickleball requires at least two players to participate. While singles pickleball involves just two players, doubles is the most common format for the game.

ALSO READ: Pickleball Kingdom Expanding with 2nd Location in Utah

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