Hermiston Council Chooses Theater Sports Park for New Pickleball Courts

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What has been called the fastest-growing sport in the country will have an official home in Hermiston perhaps as soon as next summer.

The Hermiston City Council on Monday cleared the way for local pickleball supporters to raise funds needed to build 10 new courts at Theater Sports Park.

On Monday, the council voted 6-0 to approve Theater Sports Park as the location for the pickleball courts. The action gives the go-ahead for the Hermiston Pickleball Club to raise the estimated $650,000 needed to build the courts.

“It’s something that all ages can play and it’s a way for people to stay active,” said Hermiston City Manager Byron Smith. “It’s really taken off, but it’s been around for quite a while.” Smith said he expects the new courts to increase traffic to the park.

Brandon Artz, director of the Hermiston Parks & Recreation Department, said the growing popularity of the sport has created a need for additional courts in Hermiston.

A rendering of what the pickleball courts will look like once they are built at Theater Sports Park in Hermiston. (Images courtesy of city of Hermiston)

Artz, in a report to the council, said the Hermiston Pickleball Club has been playing on the tennis courts at Sunset Elementary School for the past two years during the summer. In winter, players go to the indoor courts at Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center. Artz said the courts at Sunset are not ideal for pickleball and have hand painted pickleball court lines on them. The school district has indicated they want to keep them as tennis courts and typically close them to the public during school hours.

The Hermiston Pickleball Club has formed a committee to research, fundraise and construct pickleball courts in Hermiston. Artz said the Parks & Recreation Department supports the effort and has consulted on potential locations. After a review of different sites, the Pickleball Committee settled on Theater Sports Park for the new pickleball courts with support from the Parks & Recreation Committee.

The yellow lines indicate where at Theater Sports Park the courts will go.

The site for the new pickleball courts is on the eastern side of Theater Sports Park, adjacent to the playground area and approximately 160 feet from the outfield fence of the softball field. The site encroaches nine feet into the existing water lift station yard. As a result, Smith said the fence line will be moved about 10 feet.

Smith said Theater Sports Park was chosen due to the park’s predominantly industrial surroundings and thereby minimizing potential noise complaints from residents. The location is also near an existing restroom facility and has space for future growth.

The new facility is expected to include the following features:

  • A total of 10 courts with two ADA compliant courts, designed for wheelchair-accessible pickleball. Artz said this will be a pioneering feature in the Pacific Northwest, accommodating extra space for wheelchairs
  • Courts will be separately fenced with a central passageway for easy court access
  • Court lighting for extended play hours
  • Benches and shaded areas for players’ comfort
  • The entire facility will be enclosed by a 10-foot fence to keep balls in play and softballs out of play, as well as a wind screen
  • Security cameras

The Pickleball Court Committee will be fundraising for the estimated $650,000 cost of constructing pickleball courts through a donation program through the Greater Hermiston Foundation. Hermiston Parks & Recreation will be assisting in the effort by applying for grants that qualify for the project.

If the committee can raise the needed funds by the end of summer, construction is expected to begin in the winter with courts completed by the summer of 2025.

Phil Hamm, a member of the Hermiston Pickleball Club and who serves on the fund-raising committe, noted Monday night the increased popularity of the sport in Hermiston.

“About a year and half ago, there were about four or five of us regularly playing pickleball,” Hamm said. “Now we have over 300 people on our Facebook page and many more who are interested in pickleball.”

Hamm said the courts will be reserved for occasional weekend tournaments, but will primarily be open and accessible to everyone.

Hermiston Mayor Dave Drotzmann thanked the volunteers who have put in the time and effort to develop a plan for the project.

“What a wonderful resource for our community,” he said. “We just opened up the HEROS project a couple of weekends ago.” Drotzmann said the HEROS fields and the pickleball courts add value to the community.

For more information on the project and to find out how to donate, contact Artz at bartz@hermiston.gov or 541-667-5018 or Hamm at pbhamm715@gmail.com  or 541-561-4724.

A detailed look at the layout of the courts. (Image courtesy of city of Hermiston)

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