HONOLULU (KHON2) — The City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Parks and Recreation announced that they will be increasing the City’s number of pickleball courts.

The plan is to increase the dedicated courts that will host pickleball games and tournaments. This will include improved management of outdoor courts.

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The improvements will come through proposed rule changes.

Pickleball transcends age, sex, gender, race and class. It draws in people who simply want to have a bit of organized, team-oriented fun.

“I love the fact that so many people in our community are enjoying this game. From young people all the way to people my age and older, I think that’s a wonderful thing,” said Mayor Blangiardi.

The move to dedicate more courts to pickleball is an effort to revitalize courts around the city and county that aren’t being used.

What we are doing is not just about pickleball. We want to take advantage of courts that are being underutilized,” explained Mayor Blangiardi.

These improvements come as pickleball becomes an incredibly popular sport here on O’ahu. Recently, UH hosted a pickleball championship and there is a pickleball fundraising tournament this weekend.

The City’s Parks and Recreation director is calling it the “grand compromise” in the turf war between pickleball and tennis players. The City will be adding more pickleball courts throughout the island but not everyone is happy about it. 

Department of Parks and Recreation Director Laura Thielen said there are more than 170 pickleball courts on Oʻahu but only 17 are solely designated for pickleball; they are looking to more than triple the number of courts. 

“The grand compromise [is] so that we can try to maximize the use of our outdoor courts and reduce the conflicts between the different users,” Thielen said. “We’ve identified under-utilized courts across the island so that we can create more dedicated pickleball courts. We’re going to go from 17 dedicated courts to 77 dedicated pickleball courts.”

Seventeen parks were listed in the City’s plans to reconfigure existing courts, many of them tennis courts. 

For example, at Kīlauea District Park, the City said one tennis court will be reconfigured to three pickleball courts. 

Kaimukī resident Shannon Ova plays tennis often. Her daughters also practice multiple times a week. She said there are days when they must drive around from park to park trying to find a less crowded court to play on. 

Ova said, “We’re always looking for courts even when it’s not converted to pickleball court; so, I think it’s really going to be difficult for us to find the courts so that we can play.”

Kāhala resident Robert Tokunaga is concerned about losing certain tennis courts for pickleball. 

Tokunaga said, “I think it’s just going to add to the congestion on the courts. I think that there’s just going to be longer waits.”

Pickleball players like Kyle Paguio said more courts are needed on the island, as the sport is booming in popularity. 

Paguio said, “Even here at Petrie, the wait times to play and get on the court is becoming longer; so, there’s definitely a need for more courts around the city.”

Thielen said part of the compromise is keeping the Central Oʻahu tennis complex just for tennis and creating a pickleball complex at Keʻehi Lagoon, which is expected to open to the public this summer. 

Ultimately, the goal is to build more courts and add to the existing ones. 

Thielen said, “We’ll be working with our department of design and construction over the next year to come up with a new way to contract and build additional outdoor courts.”

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The City said the courts at other parks will be reconfigured once the work at Keʻehi Lagoon is completed.