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County funding approved, leaders hope pickleball is here to stay

By Mark Rosa

After winning approval for a $100,000 investment into an emerging sport with an interesting name — pickleball — local leaders are hoping they haven’t bought into a passing fad.

On Oct. 20, the Cache County Council approved the reallocation of $100,000 in tax dollars based on a personal request by Craig Peterson, the mayor of Logan, to build a sports complex at Bridger Park that will give Logan and Cache Valley residents a chance to get in on the game, which is played on a court with the dimensions and layout of a badminton court and with rules similar to tennis.

According to Peterson, the council made a unanimous and unprecedented decision to channel the funds from the Recreation, Arts, Parks, and Zoo tax, which were already designated to build basketball and tennis courts as well as a “splash pad” at Bridger Park, to build eight unlit pickleball courts. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring.

“The reason I’m excited about it is that it will fulfill a recreational need that we’ve never met here in Logan,” Peterson said. “I think it will appeal to a wide range of ages and abilities.”

Despite his excitement and belief in the project, though, Peterson said he worries that pickleball might proves to be nothing more than a fad.

But Peterson said he’s inclined to believe the sport — which was invented in the 1960s — will be around for a long time, because “it’s a very social game.”

“I think the fact that you can do it as a family works and I think the fact that you can learn it very quickly works,” he said.

Russ Akina, the director of the Logan City Parks and Recreation Department, said he shared the mayor’s concern about the project but was hopeful that pickleball would not be just another “flash in the pan.”

“When you put in an investment to facilitate that sport then it becomes a serious question in terms of ‘is it really just a fad, or is this something that would be considered?’” Akina said. “Having talked with other professionals around the state and looking at what other facilities for pickleball are doing around the county, I think it’s here to stay.”
-mdl