, Can Partnering with Your HOA Get You More Pickleball Courts?, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz

Q:  We live in a park in Mesa, AZ.  We currently have three pickleball courts, but our club is now numbering around 130 members. We would like to find a way to present our need to our HOA Board. Any suggestions/help you could give us would be appreciated.

A.  Well, you ask a good question. If you have thoroughly checked out our “community” tab you will find several presentations that we, and others, have given to Parks and Rec districts, HOAs, and etc. That said, a few years back we had an opportunity to approach our own HOA in Bend, Oregon, with the idea in mind of converting the four useless, ragged and hazardous tennis courts to something more appealing….like a few pickleball courts, etc. We made somewhere north of six hundred and eighty presentations to them over the next few years. (OK, perhaps not quite that many.)

We assisted them in conducting HOA-wide surveys as to what the needs of the residents might be. We focused in all of this on the needs of the HOA, not of the pickleball players. We assumed, rightly, that we would be one of but not the only need(s). Eventually it was decided to spend just south of $200K removing the old courts and replacing them with two new tennis courts, three dedicated pickleball courts, a sport-court that could be used to play Volleyball, Badminton and…yes…pickleball, as the net can easily be raised or lowered, and half-court basketball (a hoot that that wound up going in as we imagine we were among the younger residents in parts of the HOA when we began and we ain’t spring chickens) and a nice practice/warm-up area with backboard for both tennis and pickleballers to use. (See the photo above – its the asphalt truck bringing in our new courts!)

It makes us tired just remembering all the meetings, getting all the bids and quotes, doing the surveys, teaching people in the interim to play pickleball on the nasty tennis courts just ‘cuz we thought it could influence the vote, and so on. But eventually the project was completed…a week before we moved out of the HOA entirely. Our friends are kind enough to invite us over from time to time to play there, at least.

In selling to an HOA, remember to focus on two things generally. One is “what are the OVERALL needs of the population, and how can we meet more than one of these needs?” and “where is the money going to come from?”. On the first point, “determining overall residents’ needs,” on-line and mostly free survey tools like Survey Monkey and others are invaluable as most people today are at least computer literate enough to complete a simple on-line survey, assuming your HOA has or can get their email addresses. Alternatively they can fill out paper surveys put in their mailboxes and you can aggregate that data manually and so on but hopefully you won’t have to.

On the second point, “where is the money,” you can hope that you have a well-run HOA that has accrued money for a sports complex, for retrofitting an old set of tennis courts (you MUST enlist the tennis players in this effort, btw…even today when it’s well-known that pickleball is 20X as popular as tennis, you may very well have an “old guard” of tennis players who have always lived there and whose opinion will carry weight. Besides, tennis remains SUCH a cool game….might as well join them and not fight them, as long as they are willing, of course. Otherwise the numbers are what counts and you outnumber them!). Or there may be accrued funds for some other project that could be delayed further or is no longer necessary. Or there could be a special assessment levied against all home-owners to produce a “sports complex” that includes a few pickleball courts. Follow the money – get involved with the budget committee, get into the detail, and you might be surprised. We did and were.

Hope this helps a bit….remember too that every HOA has different needs, budgets, etc. None of them are particularly fast to work with but with patience and some due dilgence you should find a path through. Keep us informed.