After reading the editorial in The Free Press (Sunday, Aug. 8) paper entitled “Funding plans need more scrutiny,” I feel some of the information the writer used to criticize the request for more pickleball courts needs to be refuted.
First, the writer referred to Mankato City Council President Mike Laven who said: “We don’t need to do anything with the pickleball courts because they’re not broken.” In reality, nearly every morning, and often during the evening hours as well, 30 to 40 plus players show up at the six Tourtellotte pickleball courts, which can only accommodate 24 players at one time. These six courts are insufficient for the amount of use they get on a daily basis.
Secondly, the availability of courts at the YMCA and the construction of the new “Picklebarn,” is irrelevant to the addition of courts at Tourtellotte Park. The Tourtellotte courts are outdoor, city-owned courts, and are free and open to anyone who wishes to use them, anytime they wish to play. The courts at the YMCA require a membership to the YMCA, and the owners of the new Picklebarn have indicated that they are looking for a “club atmosphere,” and will have a variety of both membership and playing fees when they open.
Both venues (the YMCA and the Picklebarn) are strictly indoor courts with restricted play hours. The two indoor venues cannot be used as comparisons to unrestricted, free play outdoors.
The cost of additional pickleball courts at Tourtellotte is only 5.93% of the $8 million the writer believes would be taken away from additional ice in Mankato.
In the Aug. 5 edition of The Free Press, Mark Fischenich indicated that the funding of additional pickleball courts would actually be funded with general city revenues because it wasn’t an authorized use of sales tax revenue in the 2016 referendum approved by voters, and therefore would not be taking any funds from this new sales tax passed to help fund sport facilities in Mankato.
While we know that there is a great need for additional ice in Mankato, other sports’ needs must also be addressed. While members of the Mankato Area Pickleball Association have absolutely no objection to the increase in sports facilities for our children and grandchildren (which the vast majority of us have supported for many, many years), we feel it is also time to provide sufficient facilities for the adults of our community.
Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in both the U.S. and in the Mankato area. The current makeup of our players range in age from 12 into the 80s, showing it is a sport enjoyed by everyone of all ages.
Seniors make up nearly 70% of those who play pickleball. This game has proven to be a great sport to help keep seniors active and healthy, especially when combined with fresh air and sunshine outdoors. Adding more courts at Tourtellotte is a small price to pay to ensure the adults of Mankato have sufficient courts to play a sport that they love and enjoy so much.
The evidence is in the rapidly growing numbers of players, young AND old. These additional courts would provide sufficient facilities for many years to come. We need to ensure that this facility at Tourtellotte Park continues to meet the demands of our community and remains free for all.
I therefore encourage you to contact your city representatives and tell them to support this addition to the city of Mankato as a great benefit for the adults of our community.
The plan is not duplicative as the writer wants you to believe but is in fact, a very sharp focus on the needs of the community. More and more adults are playing pickleball every day, so lets ensure sufficient facilities are available to accommodate this tremendous growth of the sport of pickleball.
John Sandry is president of the Mankato Area Pickleball Association. He lives in Mankato.