ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) – The Escanaba Recreation Department is looking to construct two new tennis courts and four new pickleball courts at Ludington Park. This project has been in the works for a few years now, but the group is inching closer to completion. Pickleball was to be included in the renovations of this project due to the increasing popularity it has had within the U.P within the last decade.

“We don’t have any nice outdoor courts, we did have a vacant basketball court that nobody ever utilized and we did convert that into an outdoor pickleball court but it’s not ideal,” said Kim Peterson, City of Escanaba Recreation Director.

Peterson credits the popularity of pickleball over the past decade to snowbirds that bring the sport back to the U.P with them.

“People are going to Arizona, Florida, Alabama and then they come back here and incorporate some of their skills into pickleball here in the U.P. Everyone has a different way of playing so we created some rules, we have one standard game that we follow and people just love doing it,” said Peterson “It is shocking how popular it is. “

For the past 73 years, the annual Michigan vs. Wisconsin Tennis Match has been held at Ludington Park, but in 2019 the committee opted to break the tradition and hold the tournament else where due to the courts conditions.

“We don’t have any nice outdoor courts, we did have a vacant basketball court that nobody ever utilized and we did convert that into an outdoor pickleball court but it’s not ideal,” said Peterson. “Just the condition that the courts are in, someone is just going to get hurt. We have to resurface them at some point.”

The courts are looking to offer an unique feature to them with the health of the players in mind.

“Early on we were looking at different surfaces from concrete to asphalt but now there is this surface called polyurethane, it’s like a rubberized matting,” said Peterson. “That’s good for your joints so of course we want to get that.”

These renovations are coming just in time for the warmer months here as the project is expected to be completed by this June.

“The restrictions are so tight with people being inside and now summer is coming so I think that people want to get outside and the numbers are least restricted to be outside, so even with COVID still ongoing for a little bit yet we can still get outside and be active and enjoy Ludington Park,” said Peterson.

To donate to the Recreation Center you can contact the Recreation Department at 786-4141 or mail donations to City of Escanaba, Attn: Recreation, P.O Box 948, Escanaba, MI 49829.