GRANT PARK — Sixteen new pickleball courts and six tennis courts are now open in southern Grant Park.
The newly paved courts were built with a $500,000 grant from Lollapalooza and an additional $41,000 raised by the Grant Park Advisory Council. Lollapalooza’s contribution comes after years of wear and tear from using the tennis courts for festival parking.
“We hope that the other major users of Grant Park get the message that investing in Grant Park is very important,” said Leslie Recht, president of the Grant Park Advisory Council.
Advisory council members joined Park District Superintendent Rosa Escareño, Ald. Lamont Robinson (4th), C3 Presents, Toss & Spin, Wilson Sporting Goods and the Jones College Prep tennis team for Tuesday’s grand opening.
The high school tennis team was gifted Wilson tennis shoes and other tennis gear from the sportswear brand.
The pickleball courts sit next to the tennis courts on what used to be a sand volleyball court.
In 2021, the park advisory council fielded complaints from park users that tennis players and pickleball players were clashing for playing time. Because of that, the council launched a pickleball committee to try and raise money to offset the cost of adding a new court.
“Over the course of time, with Leslie leading the charge from the Grant Park Advisory Council, we were able to have conversations with C3 who came in with an enormous donation which really helped us escalate the size of this project to what you see now,” said Jim Wales, vice president of the park advisory council.
Despite the rain, some players jumped at the opportunity to get some rounds in at the newly opened courts.
Felicia Wade and Gloria Blyden, both South Side residents, said they were excited to see the new courts open. Both women have been playing for about a year and like to travel to different courts across the city to play.
“It’s nice that they were able to combine the tennis courts and the pickleball courts. What will be more interesting is when we see everybody come together with the tennis people playing and pickleball people playing. It’d be great,” Blyden said.
That $500,000 contribution is separate from what Lollapalooza is contractually obligated to spend to clean up Grant Park. Last year, the mega fest spent $410,000 in clean up costs, the Tribune reported. Figures for this year have not been released yet.
The Grant Park pickleball courts come on the heels of a park district initiative to add at least 50 pickleball courts across the park system over the next three years. The goal is to have about 200 public pickleball courts across the city.
Listen to the Block Club Chicago podcast: