Parks dodgeball hearing draws a crowd, decision due in October

Players from all sides of the fence spoke out at a hearing Thursday night as Seattle Parks considers a set of proposals to open up city tennis courts to “emerging sports” like dodgeball.

Players like Mark Fasse said they found a family in dodgeball and (although some players offered alternatives to the Cal Anderson plan) would not have started playing if it hadn’t been on Capitol Hill.

“All of us started by walking past that fence,” said Fasse about Cal Anderson’s Bobby Morris courts.

Editor’s note: When originally posted, this article misidentified speakers. It has since been updated.

Dodgeball player Sean Kauffman offered a cautionary anecdote suggesting that, if alternative sports are not given space on the tennis courts, they could displace people with greater needs. He said his group tried reserving a basketball court for awhile but every time they went to play, there were neighborhood kids using the court for basketball and the group had to tell them, “we’re sorry but we reserved this space.”

“If we’re not allowed to play in tennis courts, we’re just going to displace different people.” Hoffman said.

Officials remained quiet for the most part at Thursday night’s Parks and Recreation Department meeting, which served as a public hearing for the case of dodgeball and other alternative sports conducting events on tennis courts in Seattle parks.

The Parks board made it clear before the hearing that it had not yet made a decision on the issue of alternative sports and was waiting to hear from the rest of the community before doing so, though one parks official spoke in support of alternative sports before the hour and a half long public comment session.

“Dodgeball is growing and it’s not going away,” said Dennis Cook, Parks athletics manager.

A decision on the proposal is not expected until the end of October. The Parks board will accept written comments from the public until Oct. 26 — they can be e-mailed to — and will make their recommendation to the Parks acting superintendent Christopher Williams Oct. 28. According to a Park memo reported by CHS, the decision on which courts will be included will be made on the following criteria.

  • The geographic dispersal of the court locations throughout the city
  • Proximity to other tennis courts
  • Maintenance history and general condition of the court
  • The court surface material
  • Frequency of use by tennis players
  • Demonstrated high demand for alternative uses

“It’s sad I have to think about getting in a car to play [tennis] when I live five blocks away from Cal Anderson,” said Capitol Hill resident Gavin Lunde who opposes giving alternative sports space on the two tennis courts in the park.

Tennis players who spoke at the meeting said they were concerned that the Parks Department’s “low use” designation for some tennis courts was inaccurate because many tennis players had stopped using the courts after they were damaged by alternative sport players.

Tennis players were mostly steadfast in their defense of their space but one player said he had been converted by the words of the alternative sport players toward the end of the meeting.

“I’m persuaded, these people need a place to play,” he said.

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12 thoughts on “Parks dodgeball hearing draws a crowd, decision due in October

  1. I’m confused, I thought most of the dodgeball games were held in the evening, when I rarely even see tennis players using the courts ?

  2. What makes tennis more of a sport than dodgeball? They both involve balls and running around and competition, right?

    Also, other athletic areas such as soccer fields are used for many different types of sports, and basketball courts are used for things like volleyball and badminton so what exactly is the problem?

    Sure is a good thing there aren’t any important problems going on in our community!

  3. Nobody is saying dodgeball is kicking these people out of the courts forever! Dodgeball uses the court at Cal Anderson for approximately 8 hours a week! Don’t worry, Gavin, you can still walk over and play tennis the rest of the time! Is sharing the public court for 8 hours a week too much?

    Although, It’s funny to note that Gavin seems to be talking about it as if he’s never tried it. The dodgeball game has been going on at Cal for years, and he mentions NOT that he’s sad to have to drive to play, but that he’s sad because he has to “..THINK about getting in a car to play tennis.” Must not be that much of an inconvenience if, after years of dodgeball use on the courts, all it’s caused him is some sad thoughts of a potentially devastating future.

    Please continue playing tennis. We just want to play at Cal late into the nights, twice a week, all year round. Thanks!

  4. Look at how many people actually use the tennis courts over the course of a week to play tennis (with 2-4 people taking the whole court when they’re being used at all) compared to the number of people who use the court in a single dodgeball game (50-100 is not uncommon). The neighborhood obviously values the opportunity to play dodgeball.

    The dodgeball players aren’t even competing for prime times, games don’t start until 9pm. Additionally, per-person, dodgeball doesn’t create any more wear on the courts than a tennis player does. Sneakers and rubber balls, without the occasional court scrape from a racket.

    It’s ridiculous to me that Gavin Lunde thinks we should deny a dozens of people use of the courts because he’d need to get in a car if he decides one night he wants to play night tennis. If Gavin shows up to the tennis courts and finds them used (by other tennis players, or by dodgeballers (who keep a regular schedule)), he only needs to coordinate with one other person to move to a different location. If the dodgeball game is moved, a whole network of people needs to be notified and find transportation to a different court.

    Allowing dodgeball on the courts allows for far greater use of the public resource by far more people. It offers no unique wear or tear nor does it monopolize the courts. If anything, the Parks board should just use this opportunity to drop the word ‘tennis’ from the court’s name and let the neighborhood use the courts like they want to.

  5. I know the “if you don’t like the noise…” thing that is repeated on this site, but just a thought: As someone that lives in the building above CA, why don’t the dogeballers try playing on the south side of the net on the south court instead of the north side of the net? They already play in the south court, but it might completely solve any residents’ noise concerns (primarily because it’s right outside their bedrooms) because it would be outside the Blick Art’s building. I doubt it would lessen the player’s enjoyment of the game… They already normally play in the south court anyway which helps a tad.

    Just a thought. PS, I enjoy watching the games.

  6. Eh, just figured it out. There’s a bench on the south side of each of the courts! Well at least I can sit at my desk tonight and watch them play!

  7. The board is expected to make a recommendation in October, not required. They are going to (hopefully) perform some extensive research into multiple tennis courts and the ‘alternative sports’ events that happen, and then maybe create a recommendation for the Superintendant, who can choose to approve or completely decline the recommendation.

  8. Count me in on this – I personally support Dodge Ball, and Bike Polo on all Seattle Tennis Courts since more people can play dodge ball and bike polo than tennis on one courts, giving the amount of time it takes to play out a three round game of tennis. The more people active in sports in our community the more active they will be in keeping Seattle a livable, safe place to live.
    The Tennis courts should be called something other then Tennis Courts such as “Gaming Courts”.

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