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Myrtle Beach to renovate park for pickleball, the fastest growing sport in America

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 6:46 AM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - A Myrtle Beach park is getting a facelift just in time for the holidays.

The city of Myrtle Beach is revitalizing Midway Memorial Park, and part of the reason is to make space for a sport that’s taken the area by storm.

“A lot of people are a little leery at first because they don’t know if they can keep up, but it is a fun thing, and once you get them out here and they see what fun it is, they show back up here and they want to start improving,” said Midway Memorial Park pickleballer Bob McCarthy.

Bob and Kathy McCarthy have been married 30 years and have enjoyed playing racquetball and tennis together throughout the decades. But in the past year or so, a new sport has taken over as their go-to hobby: pickleball.

They’re joined by a quickly growing pickleball community that frequently fills the four courts available at Midway Memorial Park.

“More and more people are finding out about the sport, and because of it, more people are showing up and you have to start sharing the courts a lot more,” said McCarthy.

The McCarthy’s were relieved to hear the city of Myrtle Beach plans to add half a dozen new courts to the park.

According to the National Sports and Fitness Association, pickleball grew at 21% in 2020 over 2019, making it the fastest growing sport in America.

The park will have pickleball on one side and tennis on the other, while both courts and the basketball court will get resurfaced, restriped and new nets.

It’s all part of a half a million dollar project in this year’s fiscal budget to revitalize the park.

“It’s nice that all this money is going toward improving a facility people love and you can tell they love it because, yes, obviously it needs work, or else this money wouldn’t be going into it. But people love it the way it is, and they’ll love it even more when these improvements are done, and it will look really nice too,” said Myrtle Beach Assistant Director of Public Information Meredith Helline.

The renovation includes new sidewalks, landscaping, LED lighting and fencing in addition to the new courts.

With ten brand new courts and LED lighting, getting off the court could be quite the ‘pickle’ for the McCarthy’s.

“Who knows what time we’ll be out here? They’ll have to kick us out,” said McCarthy.

Helline says the upgrades should be done by Christmas, barring any setbacks.

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