Pickeball players have a place to call home in Red Deer.
The opening ceremony for the Red Deer Pickleball Courts at Motorworks Fields, next to St. Joseph High School, was Tuesday.
“This is the nicest facility in Canada – it is huge for pickleball. I’m sure it’s going to be the first of many facilities like this across the county,” said Val Vollmin, past president of Red Deer Pickleball Club.
The facility features 20 courts.
Vollmin said Red Deer pickleball players have been trying to get a facility for nearly a decade.
“We started in 2010 by doing a demonstration for the City of Red Deer staff so they could see what pickleball was and it’s … been a whole lot of work to get to where it is today,” she said.
The Red Deer club has about 250 members. Vollmin said she wouldn’t be surprised if there were nearly 400 by the end of the summer.
“Everybody can play it – you don’t have to be a super athlete to play,” said Vollmin.
“You have a social aspect to the game. It keeps you active. A lot of people who have never played another sport, they will play pickleball and enjoy it. It’s just a great, addicting game.”
The new venue will be the site of a tournament in August.
Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said the new courts are proof that residents “raising their voice to members of council matters.”
“A few years ago, our community hadn’t even really heard of pickleball, but a club developed and ultimately travelled across North America and came back to Red Deer city council saying this is one of the fastest growing sports in our community and asked to partner with the city in order to make this vision a reality,” said Veer.
Over the past couple of years, Red Deer has solidified its national and international position as a sports tourism destination, Veer added.