14 pickleball courts taking over Wollman Rink in Central Park

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Thursday, March 23, 2023
Pickleball is this summer's hottest sport
One of the fastest-growing sports has found a new home in Central Park, where an eccentric group of people created their own pickleball community.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- It's time to pack up those ice skates because Wollman Rink in Central park is transitioning to become home to 14 pickleball courts.

CityPickle will open the largest pickleball installation in the Northeast starting April 17 and through Oct. 9.

The courts will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, adding up to 196 hours of play every day.

Pickleball is like tennis as there is a net, but players say it's easier to learn and play because the courts are smaller than tennis courts, which means that players do not have to run as far or hit the ball as far.

The organization said pickleball became America's fastest-growing sport, surging nearly 40% between 2019 and 2021.

There are nearly 10,000 pickleball locations nationwide, according to USA Pickleball, the sport's national governing body.

But its Places2Play website lists only one place in Manhattan -- at a recreation center on West 60th Street where pickleball players play on a converted basketball court.

"Right now the way many people play is they bring their own nets to scraps of pavement around the city," said Erica Desai, a former acting chief of staff with the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. "They can't schedule ahead. They're playing on surfaces that are cracked. In Wollman, not only will be able to accommodate a lot of people, they'll be playing on a professional surface."

Players at Wollman will stand on an acrylic surface that rolls out like a carpet - it does not have to be poured like concrete.

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