The grand opening of the long-awaited pickleball courts at Southfield Park turned into a stampede as droves of eager players crashed through the ribbon before officials could cut it.
Six new pickleball courts opened at Southfield Park in Heber City last Friday, September 8th, bringing the total number of courts to 15. But the peaceful ribbon-cutting ceremony planned by city officials quickly dissolved into chaos when over 100 pickleball players showed up and rushed past the officials to start playing immediately.
“We barely had time to get the scissors up before we were trampled by a wave of players sprinting onto the courts with paddles in hand,” said Tom Bonner, Wasatch County’s Parks and Recreation Director. “I guess their excitement got the better of them.”
This amusing scene illustrates the incredible popularity of pickleball in Heber Valley. The courts are constantly crowded as participation in this paddle sport explodes nationwide.
In my opinion, the enthusiastic – if impatient – response of players at the opening highlights the need for even more pickleball facilities to meet surging demand. Additional courts would ease overcrowding and give more community members a chance to try this fun, social game.
The six new courts adjoin the existing six at Southfield Park, all open daily from dawn to dusk. Funded by local governments and the Heber Valley Pickleball Club, the project cost $340,000 to construct.
Wasatch County provided the lion’s share at $219,000, explaining the extra $65,000 over the initial $275,000 estimate. Heber City and Midway City both contributed $40,000. The Pickleball Club added $80,000 through community fundraising.
According to Bonner, the moment the new courts opened, they filled with players.
“It’s just a sport that has taken off, and it’s growing like wildfire still,” he remarked. “They’re getting new people daily that are taking it up. So I see us building more courts in the future.”
The collaboration between local governments and citizens made the project possible. But it’s clear more courts are needed to meet demand from new and experienced players alike.
Perhaps ribbons aren’t the best idea at future openings. Based on the rush onto the courts last week, city officials may want to consider a starting whistle instead!
The chaotic but joyful scenes at the opening ceremony demonstrate the soaring popularity of pickleball in Heber Valley. While more facilities are still required, the new courts will allow this passionate community to enjoy their favorite sport.