Long Beach Plans to Expand Pickleball Courts

By: 
Daniel Pineda

The City of Long Beach is planning to expand pickleball courts, as popularity of the sport rises, according to a board member of the Pickleball Advisory Committee (PAC).

For those of you reading that have never heard of it before, pickleball is a sport that is relatively similar to Tennis. The game consists of 2-4 players, who hit a hollowed-out ball over a net, using large paddles.

And according to Robert Bienenfeld, a board member of the PAC in Long Beach, there has been a popular rise in the sport in the Long Beach community.

“Pickleball started maybe ten years ago, in Long Beach, and it picked up a lot during the pandemic,” Bienenfeld said, referring to the Coronavirus pandemic from 2020. “Mainly because it was outdoors and social. It’s also a great way to meet people in the community.”

Bienenfeld plays the game regularly, as well. He told Beachcomber that he plays over at Bayshore playground, where he’s seen a “steady growth in the number of players.”

However, despite the rising popularity of pickleball in Long Beach, there are not enough available areas or courts to play.

“There’s a lot of Long Beach players who are going outside of Long Beach to play pickleball because the court situation is pretty poor here,” Bienenfeld said.

According to Bienenfeld, there is only one pickleball court in all of Long Beach, and it’s not even exclusively for pickleball.

“In fact, it’s a dual-striped court for both pickleball and paddleball,” Bienenfeld said, referring to the one pickleball court in Long Beach. “So it’s not quite dedicated, but it is the closest thing we have to a dedicated court.”

Since April, the PAC have been working with Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine (PRM), as well as Long Beach City Manager Thomas Modica, to develop a “master plan” for the future of pickleball in Long Beach.

And on Aug. 12, the Long Beach City Council officially unveiled said plan. According to a memorandum by PRM Director Brent Dennis, the plan includes the long-term goals of developing permanent, pickleball-exclusive courts across the city. These areas include:

  • Billie Jean King Tennis Center.
  • DeForest Park.
  • El Dorado Park Tennis Center.
  • Skylinks Golf Course Cell Phone Lot.
  • Veterans Park.

“Adjacent to the current tennis center containing dedicated tennis courts is an area that could be developed to accommodate 16 dedicated pickleball courts,” Dennis said in the memorandum, referring to the El Dorado Park Tennis Center. “The advantage of this location is the consolidation of management with the operator of the tennis center.”

Dennis added: “The El Dorado Park Tennis and Pickleball Center would have the capacity to host major tennis and pickleball tournaments.”

The memorandum also talked about the plan’s short-term goals of converting some of Long Beach’s tennis courts into dual-purpose courts, particularly in areas where pickleball playing groups have been established.

“Currently, there are four established pickleball playing groups in Long Beach, located at Bayshore, College Estates, Marina Vista and Somerset Parks and a new incubator pickleball play group is in its infancy at Houghton Park,” Dennis said. “Evaluations and recommendations for designated courts will ensue once a critical mass of active pickleball players is established”

Currently there is no information regarding when the city can expect the addition of new pickleball courts to be completed, according to Robert Bienenfeld.

“I’m not quite sure if a budget has been approved, or if it’s in a five-year plan,” Bienenfeld said. “It could be quite a ways away before the project begins.”

Despite this, Bienenfeld believes the addition of new pickleball courts would have a great benefit for players and the community, as a whole.

“It’s a great way for people to stay active,” Bienenfeld said. “I think it’s less demanding or strenuous than tennis, so people will be able to play pickleball for much longer.”

Bienenfeld concluded: “So I think having a fast growing sport that keeps the community active, and is social and where you make friends, I think all those are benefits to the community of Long Beach”

For more information about the city’s plan to add more pickleball courts, you can view the Aug. 12 memorandum on the official City of Long Beach website at https://www.longbeach.gov/citymanager/memos-to-the-mayor-and-council/.

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