Pickleball, the nation’s fastest-growing sport, is rapidly taking over Chicago with a seemingly unstoppable influx of new courts offering places to play all over the city.
After Big City Pickle branched out from Goose Island and Gold Coast to Fulton Market with an initial 9 new pickleball courts this summer, Grant Park has now followed suit.
Thanks to a huge $500,000 grant from Lollapalooza organizers C3 presents, City officials and members of the Grant Park Advisory Council last week unveiled 16 new pickleball courts in southern Grant Park along with six refurbished tennis courts that were revamped after years of usage for festival parking.
Grant Park Advisory Council, who also committed $41,000 towards the installation of the new courts, had begun raising money for the project after receiving complaints regarding tennis players and padel players butting heads over playing time. A pickleball committee was then put together to raise funds for the new courts.
“Over the course of time, with Leslie leading the charge from the Grant Park Advisory Council, we were able to have conversations with C3 who came in with an enormous donation which really helped us escalate the size of this project to what you see now,” said Vice President of the Grant Park Advisory Council, Jim Wales.
The famed festival contributed a large sum in addition to the contractually obligated funds it spends cleaning up Grant Park each year. Last year, the Chicago Tribune obtained information via the Freedom of Information Act showing that Lollapalooza spent nearly $410,000 on 2022’s clean-up efforts and park restoration.
The tennis courts have long needed attention having suffered evident signs of wear and tear since they were first used for festival parking.
The new pickleball courts, however, come as part of Park District’s incentive to make pickleball available all over the city with more than 50 new planned public courts pushing towards a goal of 200 public pickleball courts across Chicago.
“As part of the Chicago Park District’s “Pickleball Mania” commitment, we plan to construct 50 new pickleball courts throughout the city by 2025 with support from the Chicago Recovery Grant funding and partners like Lollapalooza Festival” read an official Chicago Park District release.
[Featured image from Shutterstock]