KEARNEY — As the number of pickleball players in Kearney increases— regarded as one of the fastest growing sports in the country—so will the availability of local places to play the sport, according to a memo to the Kearney City Council.

On Tuesday, City Council members will be asked to approve plans and specifications for four new courts at Harvey Park in east Kearney.

“This location was selected because of the availability of parking; compatibility with the park, level ground; adequate distance for noise protection from residential areas; and has existing wind breaks,” Park and Recreation Director Scott Hayden told the council members in a memo. He said pickup play is on the rise and pickleball tournaments are attracting lots of players.

Played in Kearney for several decades, pickleball combines badminton, tennis and table tennis on a court that is similar to what’s used for tennis, except that it’s smaller, so there is less ground for players to cover. During the 2017 Nebraska Senior Games in Kearney, pickleball attracted more entries than any other sport.

After the specifications are approved, the city of Kearney will call for bids. Engineers estimate the new courts will cost from $150,000 to $230,000.

Of that sum, the 75-member Kearney Pickleball Association will pay $112,295. The remainder of costs will be covered by a gift from the Dr. B.M. Stevenson Family Fund, Hayden said.

Members of the Pickleball Association have been aggressively raising funds. The organization was among the top recipients during the recent Give Where You Live campaign, when 125 donors gave the pickleball players $24,240.

If the council approves the specifications, bids will be opened Feb. 19 and construction will begin this summer.

Since 2015, space at Apollo Park near Harmon Park has been utilized for pickleball.

“These courts are adequate, but lack the space, orientation and surface for higher level play,” Hayden said.

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