With signals of support from the City of Sun Prairie a group of pickleball enthusiasts are launching a fundraising campaign to build four more courts at Wyndham Hills Park to keep up with the demand for the sport.

A proposal is on the table to do a 50/50 cost split with the city for the $120,000 project. The pickleball group has already raised half of its share.

The Committee of the Whole and the Parks and Recreation Commission have given a go-ahead for the pickleball group to continue raising funds until a Dec. 31, 2021 deadline.

If the group doesn’t raise enough money by that time, the city could delay the project, fund the deficit or eliminate it altogether, said Sun Prairie Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Kristin Grissom.

The courts could open in summer of 2022 if fundraising is successful.

Karen Jerg, one of the pickle ball fundraising group, said more courts are needed to keep up with the demand for the sport. She said it is harder to get on a court during peak morning and afternoon hours, and more people have taken up the sport last year with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down other activities.

Jerg says the court expansion would attract tournaments to the city and contribute to the economy with players eating at local restaurants, buying gas and shopping at local retailers.

The partnership would be a financial benefit to the city, Grissom said, with the group contributing fund to a park project. She said the city could raise revenue by renting the court during tournaments. Players and volunteers could also partner with the city on pickle ball skills training workshops.

Alders OK’d a policy earlier this month that allows fundraising partnerships. The recently-formed Sun Prairie Parks Friends, Inc. will help bring in funds for the pickleball court expansion project.

Jerg said a big donor has already stepped forward in exchange for naming rights of one of the courts. Pickle ball players and area businesses have also contributed to the proposed expansion project.

The Committee of the Whole voted on Tuesday, Feb. 16 to accept the pickleball’s group letter of intent for the fundraising effort.

The project could be added as a 2022 capital project with money coming from the park fund. City officials reported that the fund is projected to be $3.1 million by 2030. Grissom said no Capitol Improvement Project (CIP) project would be eliminated to make way for the pickleball proposal.

Alders questioned why the city would spend money on new pickleball courts when other projects need updating and repair, specifically the Sun Prairie Family Aquatic Center. Grissom said park funds could only be used for new projects.

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