Check out what the YMCA unveiled with its outdoor Port Arthur sports complex

Published 6:21 pm Thursday, May 18, 2023

Rita Davis calls the YMCA of Southeast Texas one of the best kept secrets in town.

But it’s much more noticeable now after officials gathered Thursday to cut the ribbon on the facility’s new outdoor sports complex.

Formerly the tennis courts damaged in Hurricane Harvey, the new 56-feet by 86-feet area features eight pickleball courts and eight basketball courts.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“(The nets) are all on rollers and all of the nets move for basketball courts, or to put them out for pickleball courts,” said Davis, a member of the YMCA Board of Directors. “And all the markings are for whatever sport they choose to use, so it’s interchangeable with ease.”

Davis said the new complex, which has a shaded picnic area nearby, is a huge asset to the center’s summer program.

“We had a huge turnout last summer for our day camp, and we’re hoping to have as big a turnout this summer or even more,” she said. “This will give us a lot of extra space.”

YMCA CEO Kevin Pearson said the concept for the complex came during the pandemic. Construction began in March.

“If you had been here six months ago, you would have seen some old asphalt, a little bit of green acrylic and a rusty fence,” he said. “This has been a project in the works for a while. This is the way we get to rejuvenate some empty space at the YMCA and turn it into a usable product for people to come and enjoy.”

Pearson said the complex was made possible by grants obtained by the center.

In attendance for the ribbon cutting were city officials, members of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce and others from the community.

“On behalf of the City of Port Arthur and our council and all of the administrative staff, we thank you for your diligence and dedication in ensuring our community has what it needs to continue,” Mayor Thurman Bartie said. “The staff has been great for a long time.”

Mayor Pro Tem Tiffany Hamilton, who was elected May 6 and took the Oath of Office Wednesday, was also in attendance.

“I did not know that pickleball was so serious,” she said. “My mom plays pickleball here and she is excited to come. We need to schedule babysitters around her pickleball schedules — it’s that serious. My tennis shoes are in the trunk of the car, and I’m ready to learn how to play pickleball.”

Davis said the center has already received requests for pickleball tournaments.

“People just don’t have a clue of what all we offer here in Port Arthur at this Y,” she said. “Kevin is an amazing CEO. He’s constantly thinking of new ways to service the community and new ways to get funding for those services.

“We’re hoping some day to have an outdoor pool. But there is a lot going on and a lot of great services that we offer.”

For more information about the YMCA, call 409-962-6644.