Pickleball is said to be the fastest growing sport in the nation and the world, and it’s coming to Council Bluffs in a big way.

Construction is officially underway on six new pickleball courts inside the Iowa West Field House in the Mid-America Center entertainment district.

Described as a cross between tennis, table tennis and badminton, pickleball is a paddle sport where two or four players hit a wiffle-like ball over a net.

The game reportedly started during the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, at the home of former State Representative Joel Pritchard.

He and two of his friends returned from golf and found their families bored one Saturday afternoon. They attempted to set up badminton, but no one could find the shuttlecock. They improvised with a wiffle ball, lowered the badminton net, and fabricated paddles of plywood from a nearby shed.

The now-official pickleball court is the same size as a doubles badminton court and measures 20×44 feet. In pickleball, the same court is used for both singles and doubles play. The net height is 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches in the middle.

The court is striped similar to a tennis court with right and left service courts and a 7-foot non-volley zone in front of the net that is referred to as the “kitchen.”

Designed specifically with America’s fastest growing sport in mind, the 16,000 square feet of the Iowa West Field House housing the courts will be accessed from the southwest side of the building. The facility is set to open in August.

“This will fill a vacant space to become yet another draw to the Mid-America Center area entertainment district, a location and corridor that the Iowa West Foundation has heavily invested in strengthening over the past decade,” said Pete Tulipana, president and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation. “In addition, it allows pickleball players throughout southwest Iowa to have much-needed access to indoor courts year-round.”

These will be state of the art courts surfaced with Pulastic 90, a synthetic cushioned surface designed for true ball bounce and to be easy on the joints.

The Council Bluffs Area Pickleball Club will operate the space within the Field House, which is estimated to cost approximately $600,000 to outfit for pickleball — all funded by Iowa West Foundation. The Foundation will lease the space to the club for $1 per year.

“We are appreciative of their support as this will be the only multi-court indoor pickleball facility in the metro area that is designed specifically for the sport,” said Council Bluffs Area Pickleball Club President Melanie Shellberg. “It’s a real opportunity as the number of players of all ages continues to grow. We are very excited about it.”

Shellberg said fees and programming are still being finalized, but will include open recreational play sessions throughout the day, opportunities to reserve court time, and lessons for beginners.

Although hours are subject to change, proposed club play times are as follows: Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.; Monday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.; Tuesday, 1 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.; Wednesday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.; Thursday, 1 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.

The schedule will change based on demands. Court times may be available for reservation during these times for non-club play or other open time on a regular basis for all courts.

The Council Bluffs Area Pickleball Club is currently playing in 4 indoor locations in the metro area pending completion of the new field house facility. The current sites include:

YMCA Healthy Living Center, 714 S. Main St. Normal play times are Monday, noon to 3:30 p.m.; Tuesday, 12:15 to 3:30 p.m.; Friday, Noon to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 3:30 p.m. There is a $6 drop in charge for non-Y members.

Neola Area Community Center, 110 Fourth St., Neola. Normal play times are from noon to 3:30 p.m. on Thursdays. There is a $3 drop in for non-NACC members.

Glenwood YMCA, 110 Sivers Road, Glenwood. Normal play times are Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. There is a $6 drop in fee for non-Y members.

Lakin YMCA, 235 Harmony St. Normal play time are 7 to 9:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. There is one court on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is a $6 drop in fee for non-Y members.

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