After months in the construction phase, the Council Bluffs Area Pickleball Club unveiled the club’s new home at the Iowa West Field House in the Mid-America Center entertainment district Wednesday afternoon.
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. Pickleball is said to be the fastest growing sport in the nation and the world.
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.
“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,” Pete Tulipana, president and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation, said when the project was announced last June. “In addition, it allows pickleball players throughout southwest Iowa to have much-needed access to indoor courts year-round.”
The Council Bluffs Area Pickleball Club, currently with 74 members, will operate the space within the Field House, which was remodeled at a cost of 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.
Pickleball 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.”
“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.
“This is a sport you can learn quickly, and you don’t have to be exceptionally athletic to compete. We do not see this as a club facility but as a community facility,” she said.
Shellberg said plans 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, 9 a.m. to noon, court reservations only; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.; Monday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.; Tuesday, 1 to 4 p.m., with free lessons at 2 p.m., and 5 to 8 p.m.; Wednesday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.; Thursday, 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.
With the exception of Sunday mornings, when courts are available for reservation only, all times are for drop in open play, with two courts available for reservations. Those interested in reserving courts should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Drop in open play is $5 per 3-hour session for club members and $7.50 for non-members. Court reservations, also for three hours, are $20 per court for members and $30 per court for non-members.
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 club will host an open house from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m.