City of Madison cuts ribbon on new pickleball courts, grand opening planned for Friday

By Chris Welch

It was 50 degrees, rainy and dreary in Madison Monday, but it did nothing to dampen the spirits of a group of pickleballers.

Normally rain is one of those 4-letter words pickleballers hate to hear but on this special day they joined Madison officials and employees for the ribbon-cutting of 12 new pickleball courts.

Mayor Paul Finley and Kory Alfred, director of the Madison Parks & Recreation Department, did the honors for the event, hosted by the Madison Chamber of Commerce. The new courts are located on Graphic Way near Hexagon at the recreation complex in the Town Madison district.

A grand opening celebration will take place Friday from 9 a.m.-noon at the courts and feature food trucks, open play along with a mixed doubles mixer, pickleball skill games, vendors, including free Handel’s Homemade ice cream, and raffled prizes.

“We haven’t had rain for about two months and the day we have the ribbon cutting we get it today,” Finley chuckled. “Once you see these you will realize they truly are some special courts.

“I think it’s the first of a possible second complex here, and there’s folks here who are trying to make that happen.

“I’m excited … I just got back from a mayors’ meeting and I can tell you to a person all 10 mayors were talking about the number one thing they are hearing loud and clear are roads, roads, roads and next, recreation and how this sport has taken off. “

And Madison, according to City Administrator Steve Smith, is ready to buckle up and take the city for a ride to the top of pickleball.

“Our goal is to be the premier spot for pickleball in the state,” said Smith , one of the big driving forces for a top pickleball facility in Madison. “We’ve got it all here.”

To host big tournaments and compete with the likes of Opelika’s Sportsplex, considered one of the South’s top pickleball facilities with 24 covered courts, Smith said Madison needs indoor/covered courts and a championship court. There are plans to make a championship court with spectator seating at the new facility in the near future and discussions about the covered courts.

Madison Pickelballers are excited.

“Pickelball is the fastest growing sport in America and you can see it right here in Madison.” said Mary Beth Key, a Madison resident and one of its top-rated pickleball players. “Our community desperately needed more courts in the area and the city of Madison, Mayor Finley and the Madison Parks & Recreation heard us loud and clear.

“We really appreciate it. The courts look great and we can’t wait to get out there and bang that ball around. As a resident of the city in Madison for 18 years I am proud to call these new courts home.”

Brian Vaughn, a pickleball player and owner of two Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream stores, is also excited about the new facility. Handel’s is are giving out free ice cream at the grand opening Friday.

“Yes they are beautiful and well thought out…the fence in between the courts will eliminate interference with side by side games,” Vaughn said. “The court colors are perfect contrast for tracking ball servers.

“I can’t wait to start playing on them to say the least.”

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