Ground broken for Gulf Shores' pickleball courts

12 pickleball courts slated to arrive at Gulf Shores Sportsplex in December

By Cole McNanna
Sports Editor
cole@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 6/28/22

GULF SHORES — Construction on 12 pickleball courts began last Wednesday morning, June 22, after a groundbreaking ceremony at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex. The estimated completion date is December.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Ground broken for Gulf Shores' pickleball courts

12 pickleball courts slated to arrive at Gulf Shores Sportsplex in December

Posted

GULF SHORES — Construction on 12 pickleball courts began last Wednesday morning, June 22, after a groundbreaking ceremony at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex. The estimated completion date is December.

The City of Gulf Shores and Gulf Shores | Orange Beach Sports and Events — which split the cost of the $780,000 project — held the ceremony where the courts will replace a grassy area next to Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium that had previously been used for overflow parking.

During the ceremony, Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft and Beth Gendler, president and chief executive officer of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism, were invited to make remarks by Grant Brown, public information officer and recreation and cultural affairs director for the City of Gulf Shores.

Craft said the city had originally planned to construct only six courts but the partnership with GSOBSE allowed them to add double the courts. He also said these likely won't be the last pickleball courts arriving in Gulf Shores.

"We're working with our sports tourism, and doing this with them has been a tremendous opportunity because we were planning on building six. We found a partner, now we're building twelve," Craft said. "We also, as part of our willingness and determination to grow sports and recreation north of the intercoastal, we're working on a Coastal Gateway Park over on Coastal Gateway Boulevard, formerly County Road 8. We've got 40 acres and just acquired another 80, so we've got 120 acres there and we're going to build another sports-related (complex) for our residents on the north side."

Gendler agreed that Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism had been in touch with the cities to establish a partnership on projects like these.

"We have talked to both of our cities and said, 'If you're going to do something, don't do it alone. Let's see what we can do, what we can grow it into, what bigger impact we can make,'" Gendler said. "Last year alone, there were 136,000 room nights that came here for sports tourism-related events and several hundred million dollars of economic impact. We think that partnering with the local pickleball group and our Sports and Events team, we can invite lots of people here, have amazing tournaments and make really good use of these pickleball courts; not just locally but for invited guests."

After the ceremony that culminated with representatives from Gulf Shores | Orange Beach Sports and Events, Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism, the City of Gulf Shores, architects McKee & Associates and contractor American Tennis Courts, Inc. tossing a shovel full of dirt, Brown remarked at the turnout.

"It's amazing, it's almost 100 degrees at 10 o'clock in the morning, and we've got a full crew," Brown said. "It's really fun to see the actual pickleball community, the players that we're building this for primarily, out here to support it. I can't imagine another better opportunity for them to get out and see their government at work; they advocated for it, took some time, we got a good plan in place (and) we got good partners with the Gulf Shores Orange Beach Tourism folks."

He was sure to acknowledge not only the Gulf Shores Pickleball Association but also Billy and Shirley Reeves, who have spearheaded the sport's growth in the city.

"Billy and Shirley Reeves are very instrumental. They're kind of the mom and pop, if you will, of our pickleball movement," Brown said. "They've been down here for 10, 12 years, they actually teach pickleball a little bit and embrace the snowbirds and other players when they come down and try to help them learn pickleball."

Brown said a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tournament will be held after December's estimated completion. 

Stay in the know on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Sign up for our free email newsletter.

* indicates required