New pickleball courts open at the old Alameda Naval Air Station

What is now a new pickleball facility on Alameda’s waterfront used to be the Alameda Naval Air Station, attracting people of all ages to the popular sport.

The Alameda Naval Air Station was known for having one of the largest military plane repair facilities in the country. The U.S. Navy kept military planes in ready condition, with the base growing in personnel significantly after Pearl Harbor, repairing at least 14 planes a month.

At its peak, towards the end of World War II, there were about 9,000 workers. After 56 years in service, the facility closed in 1997.

"Anytime you can reuse facilities that have a lot of history like that of course they’re going to bring sentimental value," said pickleball player Darrell Holt.

"I like the concept of recreating an older space with a lot of history and bringing a lot of new life into it," said Director of Memberships and Operations for The Hub Teresa Howes.

The Hub Sports Club opened its doors on Wednesday, splitting the building with Bladium Sports and Fitness Club. 

With fitness machines and sports replacing the old aircraft engines, the highlight for locals is the eight state-of-the-art indoor pickleball machines.

"They’ll be weather resistant so they’ll be able to play here year-round," Howes said.

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Pickleball has a history of its own. According to USA Pickleball data, the sport was invented in 1965 in Washington state. It’s now the fastest-growing sport in America.

"You can be 6 years old, you can be 86 years old – everybody can play pickleball," said Howes.

In the new year, The Hub will add seven more courts outdoors, bringing people together from all walks of life.

"You meet 40, 50, 60 new friends every time you go," said Darrell Holt. "It’s a great social activity."