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As pickleball picks up popularity in Hawaii, demand for courts grows

Pickleball is now the fastest growing sport in the country, according to data from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 5:09 AM HST|Updated: May. 17, 2022 at 7:03 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Pickleball is now the fastest growing sport in the country, according to data from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.

Many people found the sport during the pandemic.

With that growing popularity comes a higher demand for court space across Oahu. This is despite the fact that, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Hawaii actually ranks fourth in the nation for states where pickleball courts are most prevalent per population.

Still, the number of players is growing and the demand for even more courts is there.

Currently, the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation lists 163 courts at 87 parks across the island. However, the majority of those courts are not set up with permanent pickleball nets — meaning players do have to bring their own.

That also means they are competing for play time with other sports like tennis and at some parks like the tennis courts at Diamond Head.

It’s not unusual to have to get here pretty early or wait a long time to get a court.

Local players like Miliani Noble play at the dedicated pickleball courts at Mother Waldron Park in Kakaako. She says during the week, it’s not too bad, but on the weekends and in the evenings, she doesn’t really bother trying to play.

Noble says she would even support a plan to create a reservation system for the limited court space.

“Maybe it would be good because I walk here sometimes and it can be like 30 minutes and then the courts are full and you just have to sit here and wait,” Noble said. “It would be awesome if they could just do more courts.”

Recently, the City and County of Honolulu completed a court survey through the Department of Parks and Recreation.

One question asked, “which activities do you enjoy at city parks?”

More than 1,800 people responded and pickleball was chosen by 907 — or 48.5% of — respondents compared to 1,096 — or 58.5% of — respondents for tennis.

It’s clear the sport is becoming much more popular in Hawaii. So how will the city adjust priorities at public courts?

The Department of Parks and Recreation is currently digesting all of the information from that survey and will make a new draft of proposed rule changes in an effort to make everyone happy.

Time will tell if that plan will include more dedicated pickleball courts — something so many people are hoping for.

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