Tennis courts

Plan offers multiple pickleball and tennis courts in Lincoln as demand grows


Pickleball and tennis players will one day have multiple courts dedicated to each of their respective sports in all four quadrants of the city if a proposed master plan is adopted.

Growing demand for courts, fueled by the growing popularity of pickleball, prompted the city last summer to review existing court conditions and numbers, gauge demand with a public survey, and develop a master plan.

If approved by the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department Advisory Board, the plan will guide how Parks and Rec approaches updates and additions to its existing courts, but given funding issues, the plan will not be fully realized for years.

“There’s no money to do this,” city parks planner Sara Hartzell told the advisory board, which must approve the plan. “From there, we put the master plan into our 10-year facilities plan and start working on financing.”

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This 10-year facilities plan prioritizes necessary work on all park facilities – including ball diamonds, pools, trails and golf courses, in addition to parks – and is used to update the program departmental capital improvements.

One of the benefits of pickleball players is their numbers and their enthusiasm: Doug Marthaler, who is treasurer of Pickleball Lincoln’s board of directors, told the advisory board at its meeting on Thursday that the nonprofit is applying for grants and could help or complete at least two projects in the next year.

Pickleball players made up 65% of the 1,287 responses the city received in its survey – and were the most vocal critics of parts of the proposed plan.

Since the draft was released in August, the biggest burning issue has been two junior tennis courts in Irvingdale Park that pickleball players regularly use.

Initially, the plan called for these junior courts to be transformed into a full-size tennis court, making the park the location for a multi-purpose tennis facility in the city’s southwest quadrant.

This drew criticism from pickleball players who regularly use the lighted junior courses, as well as many neighborhood residents, who said they want the junior courses to remain for the pickleball crowd.

This feedback led to a change to the plan, which now calls for the construction of a third tennis court, as well as two pickleball courts, in the park near 20th and Van Dorn streets, but in a different area from the tennis courts. current juniors.

Even that didn’t sit well with all the pickleball players, who filled the room at Thursday’s advisory board meeting.

Betsy Shipley said the pickleball players who frequent the junior courts at Irvingdale Park are older and like the area because it’s not as crowded as other places, such as the courts at Peterson Park. Peterson Park has 10 dedicated pickleball courts, four of which are paid for by Pickleball Lincoln.

A pickleball court is empty in October 2022 at Irvingdale Park.

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Pickleball players in Irvingdale would rather the junior courts stay, than build pickleball courts in another area of ​​the park – in part because they fear that building new courts will mean they wouldn’t have a place to play during construction, and because the trees shelter the junior courts from the wind.

“Our group is atypical but we like it there,” Shipley said. “We want (the junior courts) to stay where they are forever.”

Now, the city’s community and neighborhood parks feature a combination of tennis, pickleball, and “double strip” tennis and pickleball courts.

According to the draft plan, the city’s community and neighborhood parks currently have a total of 37 tennis courts and 40 pickleball courts.

The master plan calls for reducing the number of tennis courts to 35 and increasing the number of pickleball courts to 64.

The plan sets design standards that include moving from concrete courts to those with a “resilient surface”, which provides a sort of shock absorber for players.

The plan notes that such a coating is more expensive than concrete and does not last as long, and will need to be factored into the budget.

The plan recommends either renovating the existing courts or building new ones to create the “dedicated multi-court facilities” in the city’s four quadrants.

Pickleball is all the rage in Omaha right now. As more people join the growing sport, players say they need more space on the court.

For pickleball, the plan recommends Eden Park in southeast Lincoln, Ballard Park in northeast Lincoln, Peterson Park in southwest Lincoln and the construction of new grounds at Air Park where the center is located. Recreation.

For tennis, the plan recommends Mahoney Park in northeast Lincoln, Irvingdale Park in southwest Lincoln, and the construction of new courts at Jensen Park in southeast Lincoln and Air Park in northwest Lincoln.

The highest priorities – that is, over the next decade – are the resurfacing of Mahoney Park’s three tennis courts and possibly the construction of a fourth court; the resurfacing of existing courts at Irvingdale Park, the construction of a third court and the addition of two pickleball courts; and renovating Eden and Ballard parks so that each has six pickleball courts.

Tier two priorities are to build tennis and pickleball courts at Jensen Park and add courts for both sports at Air Park.

The plan also mentions possible improvements to various other areas in six other parks and Fleming Fields, although these are lower priorities.

The advisory board decided to wait to vote on the plan so that members could review the final comments on it. He will likely come back to the board at its next monthly meeting.

Contact the writer at 402-473-7226 or

On Twitter @LJSreist

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