If all goes according to plan, Steen Sports Park will be sporting from four to six new pickleball courts by the end of summer 2019.
The Klamath Basin Pickleball Association — now 140 strong — was successful in obtaining a $30,000 grant with the help of the Klamath County Commission from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. The group raised $37,000 itself as a match.
Hence, the new court construction will start next spring.
Pickleball is a low-impact version of tennis on a much smaller court for four players. It employs paddles, a wiffle ball and a lower net. It is fast becoming a popular workout sport for older adults, but is touted as a game for all ages.
With the professional-grade courts, Klamath Falls can attract competitive pickleball tournaments that are big draws in the region, especially in Bend and Medford. Many players travel a circuit during the summer to compete in tournaments.
“We needed $65,000 and surpassed that,” said Association President Kristi Redd as the organizers gathered to celebrate Thursday at the potential court site at Steen. “The sports facility board also gave their approval and we are very grateful.”
Grant writer Patti Hopkins said to obtain funding, the group needed backing from a city or county government entity.
Dave Steen, director the nonprofit Klamath Community Youth Sports Complex, noted that many people think Pickleball is a recent activity.
“I used to teach it in high school in the ‘70s alongside badminton. It’s actually been around a long time,” Steen said.
At 150 acres, Steen is the site of several baseball fields, soccer fields, a skateboard park, a 3.15-mile walking path and a 60,000-square-foot indoor facility named Mike’s Fieldhouse, plus parking.