Group launches fundraising campaign to build new pickleball courts at Bowers Harbor Park
A committee of local community members, affiliated with the Traverse Area Pickleball Association (TAPA), is looking to build eight new dedicated pickleball courts at Bower’s Harbor Park on the Old Mission Peninsula. The group, which calls itself the Bowers Harbor Pickleball Committee, has just launched a fundraising campaign to help defray the costs of the project, which committee co-chair Dawn Hemming estimates at around $475,000.
The effort was prompted by a substantial increase in interest in pickleball both locally and nationally. The popular game – which combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong – has been called ‘the fastest growing sport in America’ by The Economist. Local advocates for the sport say the growth in interest has outstripped the availability of pitches and facilities. The shortage is most pressing in the winter, given the scarcity of indoor pickleball facilities in the area, but Hemming says the number has increased to the point that even the area’s outdoor courts are often clogged during the summer months.
“The past two seasons have seen an increase in pickleball play at Bowers Harbor Park,” reads a fundraising letter the Bowers Harbor Pickleball Committee recently sent out to potential donors. “Our community of players has grown, the level of play has matured and our friendships have deepened. We finished last season with over 75 active players, many of whom were playing five days a week. As we look to the season next, our inclusive and social collection of players is sure to attract even more participants.
Currently, there are four tennis courts at Bowers Harbor Park which are also striped for pickleball. But the Bowers Harbor Pickleball Committee says stripes for both sports make the pitches confusing, and that other issues – such as “dangerous surface defects” and “cumbersome/fragile nets” – make these pitches less than ideal for the growing pickleball community. “Most problematic is that courts are increasingly unable to meet the explosion in demand for pickleball play, resulting in frustrating wait times for players.”
If fully funded, the Bowers Harbor Pickleball Committee/TAPA project would pay for Molon Excavating to build eight courts at Bowers Harbor Park, all specifically and exclusively for pickleball. The pitches would include pickleball-only stripes, windscreens, fixed nets, a “shaded promenade” and lighting. The new facilities would be located near the park’s existing tennis courts.
Hemming says the project has “the full support of the Peninsula Township Council,” but the township is unable to allocate taxpayer dollars to the new courts at this time. Accordingly, TAPA and the Bowers Harbor Pickleball Committee are seeking to raise funds for the project through a variety of different avenues.
“The total project will likely be around $475,000,” Hemming said. The ticker. “We hope to increase this between grants, corporate donations and volunteer work, and individual donors to complete the entire project, including lights, covered pergola, acoustic fencing and windbreaks. . We will have a few building phases based on fundraising.
Tax-deductible donations can be made in line or by check, payable to “TAPA-Bowers Harbor” and mailed to TAPA, c/o Dawn Hemming, 601 East Front Street, Suite 201, Traverse City, MI 49686.