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Pueblo City Council allocates money to build pickleball courts at Mineral Palace Park

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- Pickleball enthusiasts will be getting their first free, public pickleball courts in the Steel City.

On Monday night, the City Council unanimously voted to allocate around $500,000 to hire a contractor to build eight courts at Mineral Palace Park.

City of Pueblo

The new courts will go up on the site of former tennis courts at the north end of the park that were recently torn down; construction should start in a few weeks and finish by the end of summer.

KRDO

Pickleball, particularly popular among older adults, uses plastic wiffle balls and paddles and combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis.

KRDO

Players in Pueblo have been using tennis courts at City Park for the sport.

"That was starting to interfere with people who wanted to play tennis there," said Steven Meier, the city's parks manager. "The country club has some pickleball courts. But I think there could be as many as 5,000 pickleball players in the Pueblo area. So the courts at Mineral Palace Park will definitely meet the need."

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Several pickleball organizations have Facebook pages to promote the sport and some players believe the upcoming courts have been sought -- and needed -- for a long time.

"It's definitely grown a lot since I began," said Kevin Cano, marketing director for the YMCA of Pueblo. "I didn't even hear about pickleball when I started back in 2017. In that time frame, I've just seen it flourish. We have four courts at the YMCA but they're not enough."

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Cynthia Rand and her dog, Barney, have walked past the proposed site for ten years.

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"I wondered what was going on here," she said. "It was about a week ago, I think I came by here. The tennis courts were gone, and I thought it was because they were going to move the freeway over to here. Pickleball? I think it's a good idea."

KRDO

The courts would be build across the alley from a residential neighborhood, but at least one homeowner doesn't mind.

"I'm not worried about noise, activity or traffic," said Scott Van De Grift. "I don't know much about pickleball, but I heard that it's very popular. I'm all for it. Maybe it'll lead to other improvements at the park."

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Meier said that future plans -- if and when funds are available -- include installing lights at the new courts so that people can play longer, and building at least four additional courts there.

"There's enough room for 12," he said. "Having lights and more courts will allow the courts to host tournaments. People won't have to travel to other cities."

City of Pueblo

Pickleball is immensely popular in Colorado Springs, with courts at three locations and some players even willing to finance some construction costs for new courts.

KRDO

"That's something we might have to consider," Meier said. "We had some people willing to donate money if we were able to get some state grants, but we were unable to. We decided to just take money from the budget to get this project started. But building new courts is expensive."

Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

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