Push for pickleball center in Boca

Two tennis courts are morphing into six new lighted pickleball courts, open for play by late February at Patch Reef Park’s tennis center. But that could just be the beginning.

Champions of the sport told Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District commissioners their 212-acres now up for grabs in Boca Teeca could site a pickleball center.

“Given the popularity of pickle ball, a pickleball center would be a nice add-on,”  condo president Anthony Ciliberti suggested. “Pickleball would be perfect, some outdoor, some indoor and some covered. I play a lot at Hillsboro El Rio Park and it’s always packed,” he said about the only outdoor public courts in the city.

Commissioners held off requesting formal community feedback on what do with the site now that Boca Raton Country Club will become the city’s new public 18-hole golf course in October. Boca intends to shutter the still open Municipal Golf Course, sold to GL Homes for residential development when that deal closes.

But that didn’t discourage residents who live on the closed Ocean Breeze course and an avid pickleball enthusiast from floating the idea.

“The exploding growth of the sport is undeniable. Every gated community in Boca area has pickleball,” local Pickleball USA ambassador and Boca Raton pickleball club president Raul Travieso told commissioners.

A “premiere” pickleball center with 16 covered and lighted courts would be a destination for leagues and lessons, and a revenue producer, he said. The old Ocean Breeze site was one of three he suggested, including the second phase buildout of DeHoernle Park and Boca Country Club. Some tennis courts at Boca Raton Country Club could be converted, he added.

Commissioners decided to wait on a new city agreement on the site before inviting formal community input. But Commissioner Craig Ehrnst said he loved the pickleball center idea. By Marci Shatzman


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