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Cranberry seeks bids for pickleball dome

Josh Weltner returns a ball over the net while playing pickleball at Graham Park in Cranberry Township. Julia Maruca/Butler Eagle

A new year-round facility for the increasingly popular sport of pickleball may soon come to Cranberry Township.

The Cranberry Township Pickleball Association, a program of the Cranberry Parks and Recreation Department, is now requesting bids for an inflatable pickleball dome that would cover five to eight new courts for the paddle sport in Graham Park.

The dome would have the ability to support light structures inside, and have a generator backup, said Pete Geis, Parks and Recreation director. It would be inflated in mid-October, stay up through the winter, and come back down in mid-April. During the summer, the expanded courts would be an addition to the existing outdoor courts.

“We have 1,000 members in our pickleball association and well over 100 on a waiting list,” Geis said. “We know we need to expand the pickleball courts, and what we are intending to do is to put some sort of bubble over the next expansion, so that it could be used seasonally through the winter months.”

Similar structures have been built over tennis courts, he said.

Because pickleball doesn’t have a specific time-based season, the cover would help support the increasing interest in pickleball over the colder months of the year.

“Right now, we’re struggling (in winter),” he said. “We have three courts inside our gymnasium, but they need that space at the same time everything else is going inside. We need more indoor space to facilitate the pickleball growth.”

The current pickleball court facility in Cranberry Township. Julia Maruca/Butler Eagle

The original plan to expand pickleball capacity involved a brick-and-mortar building, Geis said, but when the township put a request out for bids, the initial estimated costs were “over double” what was expected.

“We credit a lot of that to just the situation the world’s in right now, where all the prices are expanding exponentially,” Geis said. “We’re looking to do a more efficient facility that can help facilitate pickleball. We’re soliciting bids and hoping this is something that is much more doable.”

Bids are due later this summer. After they are all received, Geis said, the township will take around 30 days to evaluate their options and work on a new agreement with the Pickleball Association.

“If we can all agree and compromise to get where we need to be to make this happen, our hope is to have courts built before this upcoming winter, but we realize that’s a very long shot to do,” Geis said. “Everything would have to fall in perfectly for that to happen. It would be tough, but we’ll know more after we get the bids.”

Lorraine Diamond of Franklin Park and Gina Szigety of Cranberry Township play pickleball at Graham Park in Cranberry. Julia Maruca/Butler Eagle