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Local business offers a lifeline to Lake Oswego pickleball players

The abrupt closure of the pickleball courts at George Rogers Park left players without many close-to-home options, but a nearby business wants to fill the gap.

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. — When the Lake Oswego City Council voted last month to shut down the pickleball courts at George Rogers Park due to noise complaints, local players appeared to be stranded. The council directed the parks department to explore replacement courts at Westlake Park, but that’s not going to be a quick fix even if it works out.

But now a business at the other end of Lake Oswego is preparing to throw the pickleball community a lifeline. First reported by Willamette Week, a bar and music venue called At The Garages will convert a large back patio space to open two pickleball courts, plus two additional smaller ones indoors.

"I’ve played pickleball, but I'd never thought about having one in here until we started thinking of other things to do with our outdoor spaces," owner Kent Drangsholt told KGW. "Pickleball is certainly a good answer to that."

At The Garages is located off of Lower Boones Ferry Road, opposite Interstate 5 from the Bridgeport Village mall. It's technically in Tualatin, but just barely – the border of Lake Oswego runs along the rear side of the property.

That's close enough to make it a viable destination for Lake Oswego pickleball players, according to Tom Witten, a former ambassador for the USA Pickleball Association and a well-known figure in the sport's Lake Oswego community.

"The Bridgeport Village area right off the I-5, you could not design or pick a more centrally located place for an indoor luxury pickleball scenario," he said, adding that most of Lake Oswego's pickleball players live less than 10 miles from the site.

Drangsholt said Witten and other players reached out to him after the George Rogers closure to pitch the idea, and the size of Lake Oswego's pickleball community made it an easy decision.

He said he wanted to check with the City of Tualatin first to make sure he had all the right permitting for the upgrades, but he's got the green light now and expects the first four courts to be complete in about a month. There's room indoors to potentially add three more courts at some point down the road, he said.

Drangsholt said his plan is to make pickleball available from 8 a.m. to midnight, with a $9-per-hour fee to play — or $6 per hour for visitors who have a monthly membership.

The goal is to make it about more than just pickleball, he added. At The Garages also has food and drink, pool tables and live music. It's a sort of "clubhouse" model that some other pickleball locales around the country have taken up, he said.

Despite the lucky alternative, Witten said he was frustrated by the closure of the George Rogers site after eight years of use as a pickleball venue. The sport's popularity is only going up, he said, and it's in high demand in Lake Oswego as a senior-friendly alternative to tennis.

"Pickleball players most typically are financially independent senior citizens that need a place to go exercise and have fun when we're – sorry, but with age, it's hard to play tennis anymore. But pickleball is very forgiving, and it's something that you can do," he said.

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