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by Kelly Campbell

The pickleball craze has officially infiltrated the Big Apple –– between high demand that caused a park pickleball ban and the upcoming pickleball installation in Central Park. 

City Pickle will work to set up a pickleball paradise in the middle of one of the most famous cities in the world starting April 7. The venue, located at Wollman Rink, will have 14 full-size pickleball courts, officially making it the largest pickleball installation in the Northeast. It will be open from April 7 through October 9 and reservations are open as of 3/31. Courts will operate daily from 7am to 9pm and players can bring their own equipment or rent paddles and balls onsite. 

City Pickle co-founders Erica Desai and Mary Cannon share a common goal of bringing pickleball to NYC. They began City Pickle as NYC’s first pickleball club and have grown to have multiple locations. 

“Right now the way many people play is they bring their own nets to scraps of pavement around the city,” said Desai, a former acting chief of staff with the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “They can’t schedule ahead. They’re playing on surfaces that are cracked. In Wollman, not only will they be able to accommodate a lot of people, they’ll be playing on a professional surface.”

The Central Park City Pickle site’s cost will depend on demand and peak vs off-peak hours, but picklers looking to rent a court can expect to pay $80 to $120. There will be an option to rent out courts for private events like birthdays and corporate retreats. Players can also expect options for lessons, leagues, tournaments, clinics, and coaches. 

Although it will be the largest, the Wollman installation is not City Pickle’s first seasonal pickleball venue in NYC. Previously, there have been installations in Hudson Yards and TWA Hotel. City Pickle’s first permanent location will open in Long Island City. Still, none of the other City Pickle locations have made headlines like the upcoming Central Park courts. 

Although we know that there are some public parks in the city with pickleball courts –– or playgrounds-turned-DIY-courts –– the popular USA Pickleball website Places2Play only lists one major pickleball court in NYC – a recreation center on West 60th street. NYC Pickleball estimates that there are around 30 designated pickleball courts throughout the five boroughs: Manhattan (9), Brooklyn (9), Queens (3), the Bronx (1), and Staten Island (2), but they lack space and well-kept resources. The Wollman Rink will be one of the only locations in the city with a professional acrylic surface that is well-maintained. 

Wollman Rink has been a popular hub in the city for years –– it operates as an ice skating rink during the winter months and has recently been a popular roller rink in warmer months. Wollman Rink’s evolution into a pickleball oasis will provide NY picklers access to well-kept, public, professional courts for the first time. Central Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with 42 million yearly visitors. New Yorkers and New York tourists will have access to pickleball knowledge in a way that they never have before. 

In a city with over 8 million people and a sport with a growth rate like pickleball, it will likely be difficult for everyone to be able to snag a court at Wollman Rink Dink, but hopefully, the headlines from the installation will tap into a new market of New York picklers.