Play (pickle)ball!: New courts added in region as sport popularity soars

Want to play? Read on to find our list of pickleball courts in the Indiana Uplands

Even when the weather is cold and dreary, you can find Indiana Uplanders, paddles in hand, enjoying pickleball throughout our 11-county region. 

Pickleball is gaining popularity with new courts popping up throughout the country – and the Indiana Uplands is no different. The region is home to a mixture of both indoor and outdoor courts, allowing players to serve up all year long. To date, the Indiana Uplands has a total of 70 pickleball courts, with 17 added just in the last year, including:

  • In October, two new pickleball courts funded by READI 1.0 opened at the Bloomfield Town Park in Greene County. 
  • West Baden Springs Hotel in Orange County reopened its East Park with brand-new pickleball courts in October. 
  • The City of Bedford announced in September the opening of the Bedford Pickleball Complex featuring six new pickleball courts at Wilson Park in Lawrence County. 
  • Six dedicated indoor pickleball courts were opened in The Warehouse off the B-Line Trail in Bloomington.

Pickleball is a cross between ping pong, badminton, and tennis. It moves slower than tennis and has less ground to cover, making it ideal for players of all ages and skill levels. According to the Association of Pickleball Professionals, there were an estimated 36.5 million pickleball players in the United States in 2022.

While updating the Town of Bloomfield’s parks and recreation comprehensive plan, input from community members of all ages and business owners was sought to inform goals for its park and other recreational assets. Residents asked that a pickleball court be added to the town park. Following the plan update, the Town of Bloomfield renovated its park space and was awarded $100,000 in READI 1.0 grant funding to build two new pickleball courts, including new asphalt, coating, fencing, lighting, and repairs for existing park asphalt. An existing fenced-in, half-court basketball court was repurposed to create the two new courts.

In October, two new pickleball courts funded by READI 1.0 opened at the Bloomfield Town Park in Greene County. 

Brenda Hughes is a member of the Bloomfield Park Board. She said after the courts were completed last fall, residents took full advantage of them thanks to nice fall weather.

“The courts are very popular as is pickleball in Greene County,” Hughes said. “It can be played by all ages. My grandson and his friends, who are high school seniors, play frequently after school and on the weekends. I also have friends in their 60s who play whenever they can.”

Greene County residents now have four pickleball courts available, as nearby Linton also has two.

The pickleball courts weren’t the only enhancements to the park. The Town of Bloomfield worked with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to create the three-phase park plan. In the first phase of the five-year plan, the community raised over $650,000 to renovate and reopen the community pool. The upgrades to the community park are the focus of the second phase, including the pickleball courts, a new playground, updated shelter areas, and enhanced sidewalks. The plan’s third phase will begin with walking and biking trails to connect the community to the park and community pool.

A Facebook page was created in May 2022 to update the community on the progress at the park. Following the town’s lead, the community has also committed additional funds to help improve their local park. One post credited the Bloomfield Apple Festival Committee for purchasing eight new park benches to match the new picnic tables purchased by the town, providing even more extra seating for park visitors.

Uplands serves up pickleball

Pickleball has also exploded in popularity over the past year in Lawrence County. 

“We see an increase in play constantly and anticipate it to continue. We have plans to host tournaments this coming summer,” said Gary Dorsett, the City of Bedford Parks Development Recreation Director. “We find that this sport is for all ages and is very inexpensive to participate in. This is why so many are taking part. It is a great way for the community to come together, and many new friendships are made.”

Currently, there are eight outdoor courts in Lawrence County, including the new six-court facility at Wilson Park. Spring, summer, and fall pickleball leagues all play at Wilson Park. Two courts at Thornton Park are more for open play, Dorsett said.

For the colder winter months, the Bedford Parks Department partners with North Lawrence Community School Corporation and the athletic department to use the Bedford North Lawrence High School auxiliary gym for winter pickleball leagues.

A group in Martin County is working with city officials to build pickleball courts in Loogootee. Last summer, Loogootee Pickleball Inc. completed a matching grant challenge from the Martin County Community Foundation (MCCF) and received a check for $50,057 in August. For the challenge, MCCF matched every $1 for every $1 donated up to $25,000. 

In October, it was announced that the group had also been awarded a grant from the Smithville Charitable Foundation. That funding will be used to pave the four-court pickleball complex, which is expected to start this spring. In December, the group received a $15,000 impact grant from MCCF for the pickleball complex in Loogootee.

Over in Brown County, there are indoor pickleball courts at the Brown County YMCA. There are also plans to resurface Brown County State Park tennis courts into pickleball courts, Brown County Pickleball Club President Danny Key said. 

Key started the Brown County Pickleball Club Facebook page three years ago to share tips and videos for other players to watch. The club quickly gained a following. 

Key then decided to pursue building six pickleball courts at Deer Run Park. The group is waiting on approval from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to build the courts in the flood fringe at the park before they can begin raising money to build, which Key said will be around $110,000. The club recently received its 501c3 nonprofit status and will begin raising money for the new pickleball courts after DNR approves the project. 

Having outdoor courts in the county would also open the door for hosting tournaments that will boost the local economy as players drive through Nashville, past local shops and restaurants, to get to the park, Key explained.

“Every single community around us has pickleball. Every single one. We need it. I think it drives economic impact also if we can bring the people to town on the weekend for a tournament. We know they are going to spend money here,” he said.

About 50 people play pickleball in Brown County, but Key estimates that number would grow if the county had outdoor courts, too. The fastest growing group of players range in age from 18 to 32, he said. Key described the club as a “pleasant mix” of ages.

“I think it’s one of those hidden ways to stay healthy that is also fun and addictive,” he said. “For me, it’s the competitive aspect. It’s the only thing I do that feeds that competitive spirit of mine.”

Key has worked in real estate for 27 years and owns Brown County Real Estate. He said he noticed an uptick of young professionals moving into the county to start businesses and plant their roots in the Uplands region. From a real estate standpoint, pickleball courts in a community can also be an appeal for people looking to move, Key said. 

“Just like people want trees, streams, and lakes, having pickleball down the street is a huge bonus,” he said. 

“Pickleball is a serious thing that I know isn’t going away. We’re going to embrace it and hopefully bring something good to Brown County.”

Game on: Where to play pickleball in the Indiana Uplands

CountyWhere to PlayNumber of Courts
Brown Brown County Community YMCA
105 Willow St. Nashville, IN 47448
Two indoor courts
DaviessLongfellow Park
812 Front St. Washington, IN 47501
Eight indoor courts
DuboisBohnert Park
616 S. Meridian Rd. Jasper, IN 47546
Six outdoor courts
DuboisGutzweiler Park
16th St. Jasper, IN 47546
Four outdoor courts
GreeneBloomfield Park
601-699 W. Main St. Bloomfield, IN 47424
Two outdoor courts
GreeneHumphreys Park
1351 E, 1300 A St. NE Linton, IN 47441
Two outdoor courts
LawrenceThornton Park
1830 16th St. Bedford, IN, 47421
Two outdoor courts
LawrenceWilson Park
2211 Denson Ave. Bedford, IN 47421
Six outdoor courts
MonroeThe Crimson Pickle
The Warehouse, 1525 S. Rogers St. Bloomington, IN 47403
Six indoor courts
MonroeKarst Farm Park
2450 S. Endwright Rd. Bloomington, IN 47403
Two outdoor courts
MonroeMonroe County Southeast YMCA
​2125 S. Highland Ave. Bloomington, IN 47401
Two indoor courts
MonroeRCA Community Park
1400 W. RCA Park Dr. Bloomington, IN 47403
Six outdoor courts
MonroeSwitchyard Park
1601 S. Rogers St. Bloomington, IN 47403
Four outdoor courts
MonroeTwin Lakes Recreation Center
1700 W. Bloomfield Rd. Bloomington, IN 47403
Four indoor courts
MonroeWinslow Sports Complex
2800 S Highland Ave, Bloomington, IN 47401
Six outdoor courts
OrangeWest Baden Springs Hotel East Park
 8538 W. Baden Ave. West Baden Springs, IN 47469
Three outdoor courts
OrangeFrench Lick Resort (opening in 2024)
8670 State Road 56 French Lick, IN 47432
Three outdoor courts
OrangePaoli Community Park
1999 W. Main St. Paoli, IN 47454
One outdoor court
OwenOwen County YMCA
1111 State Road 46 Spencer, IN 47460
Two indoor courts
WashingtonWashington County Family YMCA
1709 N. Shelby St. Salem, IN 47167
Two outdoor courts
One indoor court
Are we missing a pickleball court in the Uplands? Let us know and we will update the list. Reach out to Suzannah Couch at scouch@regionalopportunityinc.org