The pickleball fanatics have scored again.
This summer, Portland will get a 48,000-square-foot recreational facility with plenty of space reserved for the hybrid of tennis and pingpong.
The People’s Courts is reviving a space at 2700 NE 82nd Ave. that was dedicated to recreation of a different sort: BMX riding at The Lumberyard, which closed last summer, and bowling at an AMF Lanes before that. The building is currently undergoing a full interior and exterior renovation.
Indoors, The People’s Courts will have plenty of its titular play space: five full-sized courts, two skinny singles courts and a dinkum court. And those are just for pickleball.
You can also expect five bocce courts, anywhere from six to 10 pingpong tables, the same range in number for cornhole lanes, and a nine-hole putt putt-style disc golf course, which is described as “one of a kind.” Those who prefer games that are a bit more stationary will probably be most excited about the arcade room, with both classic and modern cabinets.
Outside, the pickleballers will dominate. That’s where six additional courts are going in along with covered seating for eating and drinking.
Which brings us to the food: The People’s Courts will, unfortunately, break its “courts” theme and not install a food court. But the fare promises to be much more elevated, so there’s that. There are plans for two restaurants: The Kitchen, a bar and grill with a menu designed by Nate Tildon (Clyde Common, Olympia Provisions), and The Parlor, a tavern firing up pizzas whose recipes are created by Brian Spangler of Apizza Scholls. Those pies will be accompanied by soft-serve ice cream and shakes.
“We’re excited to bring a new kind of entertainment to Portland,” Dave Sacks, an owner of The People’s Courts, stated in a press release. “The People’s Courts will be a place for people to come together, play and have a good time year-round. Our goal is to provide something fun for everybody, and we think we have accomplished that.”
Sacks and his co-founders Dave Schrott and Robert Sacks have long been involved in Portland’s restaurant and tourism industry. In addition to developing the downtown Ace Hotel property, which they sold last year, the team owns the buildings that house Coopers Hall Winery and Taproom, Spirit of 77, and Oven and Shaker, among other venues.
The news of the upcoming arrival of more pickleball space follows the contentious closure of what had been Lake Oswego’s sole venue for the sport.
On Jan. 17, the City Council voted 4-3 in favor of suspending pickleball play at George Rogers Park following a barrage of noise complaints from neighbors. Concerns about the acoustic landscape being punctuated with unending “plinks” began rolling in last January, though the courts, which are now locked up, had been around since 2015.
Following hours of comments from both noise-tormented residents and pickleball enthusiasts who cited the importance of the health benefits that come with keeping the courts, the city council discussed sound-mitigation and relocation options. They determined that the most cost-effective possibility is the conversion of Westlake Park’s tennis facilities into pickleball courts, and directed the Parks and Recreation Department to begin researching noise, parking, traffic and rehabilitation expenses—a process that would leave Lake Oswegans without a dedicated space for pickleball indefinitely.
At the end of January, At the Garages Eatery & Taphouse, located on the L.O. side of Interstate 5 just a stone’s throw from Bridgeport Village, announced that it would install pickleball courts as a response to the closure. CEO and managing partner Kent Drangsholt, who moved the business from Beaverton to Lake Oswego in 2022, says he was approached by USA Pickleball Association ambassador Tom Widden about saving pickleball from extinction in that community.
“As a businessman, when opportunity knocks, my wife and I analyze how to turn it into a successful venture,” Drangsholt told WW. “This one was easy to say yes to. Tom’s years of experience and expertise, the lack of available courts, the easy freeway access and the affluent local neighborhoods in Lake Oswego, Tualatin, Tigard and West Linn mean that the likelihood of success is high.”
Soon, pickleball enthusiasts, you’ll have a sprawling Portland venue as an option as well.
The People’s Court has yet to announce a specific opening date, but once it launches, the business will be open from 9 am to 10 pm on weekdays and 8 am to midnight on weekends. Expect a range of fee structures and times of play for different activities. Individual courts can be rented by the hour and packages will be offered for groups.