Temporary pickleball courts to open in Lincoln Yards Monday

The courts will be open to the public, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, starting Monday and running through Nov. 15.

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Tamara Jones serves during a game of pickleball on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023 at Roosevelt Park in Chicago.

Tamara Jones serves during a game of pickleball this month at Roosevelt Park in Chicago.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

Pickleball enthusiasts on the North Side will soon have more options to play the country’s fastest-growing sport.

Real estate developer Sterling Bay and pickleball enterprise Big City Pickle on Friday announced a partnership to put 11 pickleball courts at 1685 N. Throop St.

The courts will be open to the public, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, starting Monday and running through Nov. 15.

“Sterling Bay has decided to expand its commitment to community play at Lincoln Yards by delivering pickleball courts while we work to bring the site’s permanent parks and recreational spaces to life,” Sterling Bay CEO Andy Gloor said in a news release.

Gloor said by partnering with local organizations like Big City Pickle, Sterling Bay hopes to make Lincoln Yards a space of opportunity for everyone from business owners to athletic enthusiasts.

Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards ongoing project, a $6 billion, 53-acre development, is going up at the juncture of Bucktown, Wicker Park and Lincoln Park.

The new pickleball courts will be next to Sterling Bay’s Fleet Fields, three turf soccer fields that opened in 2019. Gloor said one factor in opening the pickleball courts was seeing “tens of thousands of Chicagoans” flock to those soccer fields in the last four years.

Big City Pickle already has 30 courts in three Chicago locations — Fulton Market, Goose Island and Gold Coast — drawing everyone from skilled players to pickleball novices.

The new courts join other indoor and outdoor pickleball venues popping up across the city as the sport becomes more popular.

Last year, the Chicago Park District announced plans to add at least 50 more pickleball courts over the next three years. Since the announcement, 17 courts have been completed, according to the park district.

Pickleball injuries are rising along with the sport’s popularity; investment banking company UBS estimates medical costs from such injuries are expected to reach $250 million to $500 million this year.

“The demand for pickleball courts in Chicago is not slowing down,” Big City Pickle founder Marc Bortz was quoted as saying in a news release. “We’re eager to open more facilities across the city, and popping up at Lincoln Yards allows us to piggyback on the success of Fleet Fields, meeting active Chicagoans where they’re at.”

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