Pickleball coming to Shawnee Sports Complex as officials break ground on facility

The rendering of the new pickleball facility at Shawnee Sports Complex. Photo by Jake Flatley

DUNBAR, W.Va. — One of the fastest growing sports in the United States continues to grow in Kanawha County — pickleball.

The groundbreaking for a new pickleball facility featuring eight lighted regulation-size courts at the Shawnee Sports Complex took place Tuesday. Officials with the complex and the Kanawha County Commission hope to have the courts open by the end of September.

The paddle sport, which combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, was named the fastest growing sport in the country by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association the last two years with over 5 million players.

“Pickleball is growing exponentially, not only in the United States but all over the world and in Kanawha County. To have these pickleball courts here is a great step forward for pickleball,” Hal Pendell, the District Ambassador for USA Pickleball in the North Mid-Atlantic Region told the media Tuesday.

Pendell was one of many members of the pickleball community at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The eight courts will be regulation-size meaning 22 feet long from the edge of the service area or baseline to the net, and 10 feet wide in each service area. The non-volley zone or kitchen will be seven feet wide. The net height at the sideline is equal to 36 inches.

Pendell said the sport is exploding in popularity because it’s for all ages. Recently, new pickleball courts opened in South Charleston and Pendell expects more throughout the county and region to be created.

“It’s easy for anybody to play. Whether you’re a teenager or whether you’re like someone like myself 75 years of age or older. You can be competitive at all levels and it doesn’t matter your level of expertise and it doesn’t your level of expertise, you can play in your age group and be competitive,” Pendell said.

The total cost for this project is $386,000, and the Kanawha County Commission provided ARP funds. BBL Carlton, LLC, will construct the courts.

Ben Salango, a Kanawha County Commissioner told 580-WCHS that he expects the facility to be used for recreational purposes and potentially regional, and national tournaments.

“For a five-day tournament, we can imagine we can bring in 700 players. If they are bringing family members and friends, you’re talking about thousands of people that can come in for a single tournament,” Salango said.

Salango said adding pickleball was the top request for residents in Shawnee expansion. The courts will be located on repurposed tennis courts at the complex and also have a championship basketball court.

“This is an important project. This is something that we’ve received more emails and calls about adding to Shawnee than anything else,” Salango said.