PC MARC begins pickleball pilot program Monday
Responding to public outcry that Park City was showing preference for tennis players over pickleballers, the city recreation department will operate a month-long pilot program with both racquet sports playing side by side.
With the growing popularity of pickleball and limited court space to play it, especially during winter, the PC MARC will open up the three tennis courts – or six courts if playing pickleball – under the bubble at the PC MARC to all players.
Park City Recreation Director Ken Fisher was personally targeted by pickleball players who claimed he discriminated against them by allowing tennis players more access during the most desirable times of the day.
Fisher said the pilot program is an opportunity to see if playing both sports at the same time is compatible.
“There are certain times where there may be an empty tennis court,” Fisher said. “And if there's a way that we can maximize that use and not impact, a huge impact on the other users, I think it's something we just need to explore so we've got some data for when we make our court usage policy for next winter.”
Pickleball uses a harder ball than tennis and its noisier during play. Fisher said the thought is that it may be too disruptive for those playing tennis. This pilot program could help sort things out.
“That’s been our stance. And we've been out there with decibel readers and we think it could be the case," he said. "But we also just want to test it and see. I think there are different levels of tennis players, as there are pickleball players. Some tennis players, it may not impact them. Other people that may take the game more seriously, or something, it may be a greater impact on them. So, we're just trying to, again, get that feedback to evaluate it.”
Between April 3 and May 7, the day before the bubble is scheduled to come down, Racquet Sports Division Manager Cole Johnston said they are scheduling multi-use play on certain days and times.
“We wanted to get sort of a different aspect from different days and different players,” Johnston said. “Obviously, we also wanted to make sure that there were opportunities to keep the schedule sort of as is where it is currently dedicated to tennis. Also, there's times where it's dedicated pickleball. We wanted to get some weekdays, as well as some weekend days where we could allow some mixed use time and then get that feedback from those players across those different days.”
Those who play during the pilot program will fill out a survey to provide feedback as soon as they’re done playing. Fisher said the data will be used to come up with next winter’s plan.
“One of the key things is we've done with these operational plans that have gone through the recreation advisory board, and that as well as the city council,” Fisher said. So, there is, you know, an opportunity for the public to chime in and, you know, either support or disagree with what our plan will be for next winter.”
Fisher expects to have the surveys analyzed in time to report to the council by July.
Meanwhile he said the recreation department is working to get an architecture firm on board to design a new indoor/outdoor pickleball court at Quinn’s Junction, renovate the outdoor pools at the MARC, including some expanded fitness areas, and rebuild the City Park building.
He’d like those plans done in time to possibly put a $50 million bond on November’s ballot to pay for the projects.