Pickleball is coming to Central Park’s Wollman Rink

March 23, 2023

Image courtesy of CityPickle

Central Park will soon be home to the largest pickleball offering in the Northeast. The park’s Wollman Rink will turn into CityPickle, a 14-court pickleball installation opening in April. Presented by Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, Related Companies, and Equinox, CityPickle will offer lessons, clinics, leagues, open-play sessions, tournaments, and other activities for players of all levels.

“Our mission when founding CityPickle was to bring pickleball to as many New Yorkers as possible. Thanks to our partnership with Wollman Park Partners, we are thrilled to offer 196 hours of pickleball play each day in New York’s most iconic destination right in the center of Central Park,” Mary Cannon and Erica Desai, co-founders of CityPickle, said in a statement.

CityPickle first launched in the city last fall with seasonal courts at Hudson Yards and the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport. Later this spring, CityPickle will open its first-ever permanent location in Long Island City, featuring indoor climate-controlled courts, a full bar, and a restaurant.

CityPickle at Wollman Rink will be open daily from April 7 through October 9 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Court reservations will open on March 31.

Full-price court rentals range from $80 to $120 total per hour for off-peak and peak times respectively, costing as little as $10 per person depending on how many play. Court reservations will open on March 31.

In anticipation of its first season, CityPickle will work with several organizations, including the Challenged Athletes Foundation, the Boys Club of New York, the YMCA of Greater New York, Solutions Now, and Fountain House. The Challenged Athletes Foundation will host weekly, two-hour sessions during the spring, working with a CityPickle coach to help facilitate games for athletes in wheelchairs and other physical disabilities.

The Boys Club of NY will bring campers on field trips to CityPickle every week, and CityPickle is training Boys Club staff to be able to host games offsite. The YMCA, Fountain House, and Solutions Now will receive free court time and instruction from CityPickle staff.

The venue can be rented for events like birthday parties, family gatherings, and corporate team building. Some courts are equipped with private rentable courtside cabanas, meant to help pickleball players “take advantage of the sport’s communal nature,” according to a press release.

In 2021, the city’s Parks Department issued requests for proposals to operate and manage Wollman Rink and the Central Park Carousel, both entities run by the Trump Organization. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio terminated contracts with the organization following the January 6 insurrection.

The city selected Wollman Park Partners, LLC, a joint venture of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (the firm which owns the New Jersey Devils and Newark’s Prudential Center), Related Companies, and Equinox, to run the rink.

Community partners include Great Performances, Melba’s Restaurant, YMCA, Ice Hockey in Harlem, Figure Skating in Harlem, The Boys’ Club of New York, and Green City Force.

“Pickleball is a sport that became immensely popular after the pandemic – it’s a fun, fast-paced sport that’s easy to pick up and accessible for players of all ages and abilities,” Sue Donoghue, Parks Commissioner, said. “We’re thrilled to see pickleball coming to Central Park’s Wollman Rink, a highly visible and well-loved space that is a destination for New Yorkers and tourists alike.”

Last year, Wollman Rink hosted a retro-themed roller rink called DiscOasis, complete with a 70s-inspired soundtrack, dazzling lights, and fun special events and programming including theatrical performances, live music, DJs, and more.


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