By Mark Parker
Despite previous disagreements, local pickleball enthusiasts and St. Peterburg city officials are now working together to refine plans as the sport’s popularity continues to soar.
Kevin Cavanaugh, president of the St. Petersburg Pickleball Association, hopes to collaborate with the mayor, city council and the parks and recreation department’s leadership to continue developing infrastructure that keeps pace with the growing number of pickleball players. Association members have expressed the benefits and facilities needed, for what Sports Illustrated called “the fastest-growing sport in America,” at the last three council meetings.
Cavanaugh recently met with Bryan Eichler, assistant director of parks and recreation, to discuss the city’s plans for the sport. He relayed the “awesome news” that four St. Petersburg parks will feature 16 new pickleball courts by the end of March 2023, a 64% increase.
“It’s kind of a double-edged sword because there are so many people playing,” he said. “With this addition of courts, it should make things a lot better, and they’ll probably do the same thing next year. It’s a welcome thing because they haven’t done any new courts in quite some time.”