Pickleball to Come to Downtown Coral Gables: A Game-Changer for the Community

Javier Baños

Baños is the Editor of Gables Insider

In an innovative move that blends urban development with the surging popularity of the nation’s fastest-growing sport, the Coral Gables Commission has announced plans to introduce eight new pickleball courts. These courts will not be nestled in a sprawling park or alongside existing athletic facilities where other pickleball courts currently exist in the city, but rather, perched atop the second floor of a city-owned parking garage at the intersection of Andalusia Avenue and Le Jeune Road. This decision, championed by Commissioner Fernandez, promises to revitalize an underutilized asset one block south of Miracle Mile, adjacent to the soon-to-be-renovated Publix Super Market.

The parking garage in question has long been the city’s least utilized parking facility, often serving merely as overflow parking for City Hall complex staff. The introduction of pickleball courts is expected to breathe new life into the area, providing significant public benefit not only to residents of downtown but also to those in adjacent residential areas. Moreover, this initiative is anticipated to draw additional traffic to the adjacent Miracle Mile shopping area, further boosting local commerce.

The project, with an estimated cost of $600,000 to $800,000, is slated for appropriation during the upcoming budget season. Coral Gables is exploring potential sponsorships and partnerships to offset the financial burden on taxpayers, signaling a community-forward approach to urban planning and recreational development.

The Rise of Pickleball

Pickleball’s trajectory to becoming the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. is a testament to its appeal across generations. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association’s 2022 report, the sport boasts 4.8 million participants nationwide, marking a staggering 39.3% growth over the last two years. This badminton-tennis-Ping-Pong hybrid offers a social, fun, and accessible form of exercise that appeals to a wide demographic, from children to seniors.

With origins dating back to 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, pickleball has evolved from a simple game designed to entertain bored children into a global phenomenon, governed by the USA Pickleball Association since 1984.

Why Coral Gables?

The decision to install pickleball courts atop a parking garage reflects a creative use of space that addresses multiple urban challenges, including underutilization of infrastructure and the need for more recreational opportunities. This initiative not only repurposes a neglected asset but also aligns with the broader trends of urban redevelopment and the growing demand for accessible sports facilities.

Coral Gables’ embrace of pickleball is more than a nod to the sport’s popularity; it’s a forward-thinking approach to community wellness and urban vibrancy. By integrating these courts into the cityscape, the city is set to offer residents and visitors alike a unique venue for recreation, potentially setting a precedent for other cities to follow.

A Look Ahead

As pickleball continues to sweep across the nation, Coral Gables’ project represents a microcosm of the sport’s potential to transform communities. With the sport’s inclusion in discussions for the 2028 Olympic Games and its adoption by hotels and homeowner associations across the U.S., the future of pickleball looks brighter than ever. This initiative in our city is not just about adding sports facilities; it’s about enhancing community life, fostering social connections, and reimagining urban spaces in ways that benefit all.

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18 thoughts on “Pickleball to Come to Downtown Coral Gables: A Game-Changer for the Community

  1. This would be a great recreational addition to our thriving city. Pickleball is an inclusive game that can be played by all — young and old, men and women, athletes and hackers. Families often play together. It provides that rare occasion for our whole family to participate in the same recreational activity. But right now we have very limited courts available for our residents. This innovative and non-intrusive solution for downtown will allow for America’s #1 growing sport to thrive in The City Beautiful.

  2. Has the Gables Insider’s vision become cloudy? Pickelball news is fun to read. Aren’t other events at City Hall important to cover in addition to reporting baseball? Full coverage is better for the residents. The Gables Insider’s vision goes back to 20/20.

  3. Wonderful idea using the garage rooftop.
    Thank you Commissioner Fernandez for respecting and saving our green space.

  4. This will be a net plus all-around. No pun intended. More access for players, more overall recreation opportunity, more opportunities for beginners, no park space taken from other parks or a tennis or basketball court overlay, and a good possibility of spillover/apres games traffic for local restaurants and retailers. Win-win.

  5. $1.5 Million (minimum) for 8 pickleball courts. Access must be provided for all. There is also the question of the future redevelopment of that piece of property. So this proposal may only be for temporary use. Can’t that money be better invested in long term solutions.

  6. P_ball will attract it’s fans but I dont see how that leads to a “Community Revival”
    And….isnt this hideous looking garage part of the Infumable Bauhaus movement that unleashed the ugly Old Police HQ bldg on Salzedo?

  7. As a city that prides itself on quality of life and recreation for its residents, we are woefully behind the times on pickleball courts here. I have been working with the Commission and the Community Recreation Department for two years now and we have made some progress but not enough to meet the demand. This parking garage proposal is an excellent idea. Depending on the amenities added, the costs might be less.
    1. This is an underutilized parking facility. Checks at random times have shown that it is never full.
    2. This will be a dedicated Pickleball facility. We do not want to take space from our other Cora Gables athletes in tennis, basketball, or anything else. We also would like to avoid taking green space from any existing parks. We need our own space.
    3. Being part of a growing urban core is exciting for our players and creates opportunities to patronize area merchants.
    4. This site is not near residential areas and the pickleball park will not affect any residents.
    5. The city’s current Capital Improvement Projects have monies set aside already for other park projects that are underway or in different stages of development (including Philips Park).
    6. this parking garage has never been ADA compliant but it is a solid structure with no plans to change. We have other courts in the city that need ADA requirements as per legal in our city. This is not in question for this facility, as has been discussed at the commission.

    We need a place for families and young people to able to affordably play this sport that is accessible to so many and has social, exercise, and family quality time benefits.
    Kudos to Commissioner Fernandez and others on the commission for championing this cause.

    Maite Halley
    Instagram: @coralgablespickleball

  8. Here’s some institutional history for all… this parking garage is NOT ADA compliant. It has never been. So… if the city plans to invest $600K to $800K to upgrade it for Pickleball, it may want to consider complying with the federal laws first to make ALL public spaces ADA compliant. Incidentally, for all you trolls who wish to make light of my comment, please note, this space will remain a garage after the courts get installed. Thus… the reason for ADA compliance.

  9. I think that would take away from the already limited parking in the area. Why not build up and create more parking spaces for the community?
    There are plenty of parks in the area that can be converted to pickle ball.

  10. An amazing idea. We need more courts as more people are enjoying the sport. There are only 4 courts at Youth Center and the demand is getting bigger.

  11. hey Saul, buy the site & run it, pal. I’m sure Javier can come up w a # for you. that way you’re in control.
    meanwhile, this is a great idea by Ariel. frankly, this is more along the lines of what I expected voting for him… focus on residents & quality of life. cant wait to see what objections Lago has. ‘cause he will.

  12. This is very nice, but why is this the only story about Coral Gables happenings for approximately two weeks? Why have you not written about the results of the recent charter review meeting that was held last week? Why not give us notice of the next charter review meeting? The charter review is addressing important issues, including elections and requiring voter approval for certain public expenditures, yet Gables Insider hasn’t mentioned it at all. Why not?

    Why has their not been more about the recall efforts? I’ve had canvassers show up to my house seeking my signature. This seems important. Why is there not more reporting on it?

    It really does not make sense that Gables Insider has nine consecutive articles about UM baseball and none of any substance on news in our city that affects us. Perhaps those responsible for this website need to turn it over to others who have the time to operate it.

  13. That is awesome. Currently the city has only limited courts that cannot accommodate the community’s demand. Thank you Mr. Fernandez and to the rest of the commission who are in favor of this project for listening to the voice of the community who is currently being underserved in this area.

  14. Can we please fix existing parks that need major renovations? For example, Philips Park just near Coral Gables Elementary School & Coral Gables Prep. Why are we spending on this before looking at existing parks that need the attention.

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