NorCal’s 1st Public “Padel” Courts Coming to Downtown SF in October
Padel, a racket sport enjoying a meteoric rise in popularity across the world, will officially land in San Francisco this October with the opening of two courts in Embarcadero Plaza, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and Park Padel announced today.
Construction will begin the week of September 18th on the temporary courts, part of a one-year pop-up by Park Padel. They will be the first padel courts open to the public in Northern California.
Yes, this is a for-profit enterprise on public land.
Fortunately there will be eight free hours a week for the public (2-4p, Monday through Thursdays only), but none on the weekends or evenings. Otherwise, unless you’re a “member,” you’ll need to pay $40 per person per hour (so if you play doubles with four people that’s $160/hour). Yikes!
What is Padel? How is it Different from Pickleball?
Padel, frequently described as a cross between tennis and squash, boasts 10 million players across the globe. Invented in Acapulco in 1969, padel’s popularity skyrocketed during the pandemic alongside pickleball, as people turned to socially distanced activities. While pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S., padel is one of the fastest in the world.
Like pickleball, padel is easy to learn, social, and usually played as a doubles game on a court about a third of the size of a tennis court. However, padel courts are bounded by glass walls, allowing players to hit the ball off multiple surfaces, much like squash.
Park Padel, a women and minority-owned business, was started by Jessica Talbert, Neil Chainani and Katie Lampert. The three friends fell in love with the global sports craze while traveling in Spain, which has more than 20,000 courts. They plan to open a permanent, six court indoor padel facility in South San Francisco in spring 2024.
Where exactly is it located in San Francisco?
The courts will be in Embarcadero Plaza in downtown, just across the street from the Ferry Building and right next to Vaillancourt Fountain.
What will it cost?
The two padel courts will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Court time will be free from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday but must be booked in advance. Court fees for all other times are $40 per person per hour, or $28 for those who opt for a monthly membership. Seniors are $28 an hour on weekdays. Players will be able to book on parkpadel.com or through the Park Padel mobile app.
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