Another non-tennis and non-pickleball racquet sport that has gained wide popularity around the world, padel, will get its own dedicated courts at Embarcadero Plaza.
The plaza across from the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street that used to be called Justin Herman Plaza will soon be home to two padel courts, as part of a one-year pop-up called Park Padel. Construction on the specialized padel courts starts next week, and the padel games start in October.
Padel courts are larger than pickleball courts and cannot be adapted from regular tennis courts – glass or solid walls are a requirement for play – and the rackets are smaller. Padel is considered more athletic than pickleball, as a result of the larger court and a faster-moving ball.
“San Francisco is a city that welcomes and celebrates all kinds of sports and activities, and we will work hard to bring more attractions to our downtown,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “Adding these courts to Embarcadero Plaza is just one way our public spaces are evolving to accommodate dynamic new interests. This exciting new recreational opportunity will only add to the vibrancy of Embarcadero Plaza for our residents and visitors to enjoy.”
This is the second activation of a downtown space for a sporting use that happens this fall, as part of City Hall’s broader efforts to clean the streets and bring more people downtown. Also under construction now are new ping-pong and Teqball areas in UN Plaza, along with a new skateboard park there.
The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department says Park Padel will be open for free gameplay from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with reservations required on the Park Padel app. Games at all other times will also require reservations, and will cost $40 per person per hour – $28/hour for seniors on weekdays. Memberships are also available, which will always get you the rate of $28/hour.
Park Padel is a women and minority owned company launched by three friends, Jessica Talbert, Neil Chainani and Katie Lampert, who fell in love with padel while traveling in Spain. The sport, which was invented by a father and son in Acapulco in 1969, combines elements of tennis and squash – and unlike pickleball or tennis, it uses the side and back walls of the court for ricochets.
“Padel is an incredibly social sport and a great way to spend time with friends or colleagues,” says Lampert. “We have no doubt it will become San Francisco’s new favorite pastime.”
Read all about the differences between pickleball and padel here.
“With interest in racquet sports at an all-time high, we are excited to offer the first padel courts to the public in Northern California,” Recreation and Parks General Director Phil Ginsburg said in a statement. “Our parks and squares are about fun and connection, and these new courts will offer much of both.”
Follow Park Padel on Instagram for updates.
Photo: Artur Kornakov
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