Four dedicated and kitted-out pickleball courts are now open–on an “interim” basis–at Hudson River Park, in the newest NYC addition to the booming and sometimes controversial sport.
They arrive as Central Park’s Wollman Rink, which had converted its ice rink into 14 pay-per-hour pickleball courts in April, reverted back to skating on Oct. 29. Those courts, run by City Pickle under a concession with the NYC Parks Department offered sessions for either a pricey $80 (during off-peak hours) or $120 (during peak hours). Only three “community use” pickleball courts were offered per day (at $5 per hour), but reservations were required and sold out fast.
The four “interim” Hudson Park courts are free. They’re operated by the Hudson River Park Trust and can be found just off W. 34th St. adjacent to the river. Brilliant blue and standing sheer against the water, they’ll are now open on a daily basis from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.
They arrive as Central Park’s Wollman Rink, which had converted its ice rink into 14 pay-per-hour pickleball courts in April, reverted back to skating on Oct. 29. Those courts, run by City Pickle under a deal with the Central Park Conservancy, offered sessions for either a pricey $80 during off-peak hours or an even pricier $120 during peak hours. Only three “community use” pickleball courts were offered per day (at $5 per hour), but reservations were required and sold out fast.
Although the Hudson River courts are still in testing mode, they come with a set of strict rules, and will operate on an honor system. For example, bringing food or chairs is impermissible. So is having a dog tag along. Under the honor system, players must vacate the courts after an hour if people are waiting. Leagues, commercial activity, or professional lessons are banned for now.
Crucially, no sports other than pickleball are allowed. In other words, no batting practice or makeshift basketball. This may be a telling nod to the “pickleball wars” that have broken out in locales such as the UES, Central Park, and Greenwich Village; these initially initially revolved around disputes about the sport “colonizing” other recreational activities.
As for now, enthusiasts are certainly happy to have one more location to lug their racquets to.
During an informal opening ceremony for the courts on November 4, Hudson River Park’s Chief Executive Noreen Doyle offered some cautious praise: “We are in the process of selecting a design team for the permanent park between W29th and W44th Streets. As part of that process, we’ll go through what the trust normally does, which is a community discussion about what we have here. In the meantime, before we have designs, it’s great to be able to introduce an improvement in this area. Which, frankly, it could use.”