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December 23, 2021 Special Announcement



Beginning January 1, the cost of playing at the Boys & Girls Club of Sequim (B&GC) will increase for Sequim Picklers members, from $2 to $5 for 3 hours of play. Guests of members will now be welcome to play at the cost of $7 a session.

While a price increase is always unwelcome news, we (the Sequim Picklers Board of Directors) are wrestling with a much bigger problem.

A Little History Sequim Picklers signed its first Facility Rental Agreement to use the B&GC gymnasium in December of 2011.

We paid $90/week for nine hours of play, no matter how many of our members showed up. That was less than half of the $185/week rental fee other groups had to pay. (The B&GC does not charge for set-up and break-down of equipment.) Our play times were guaranteed, except on rare occasions when a B&GC event preempted our scheduled time.

In return for the price break, over the years the Sequim Picklers has tried to be a good steward to the B&GC, re-striping the courts, changing out the lights in the gym, providing pickleball nets, balls, and paddles, and hosting free pickleball clinics to children and teens who participate in the B&GC.

The pickleball program at the B&GC was never meant to be a money-maker for our Club. All we wanted was a place to play pickleball without getting wet or risking injury by slipping and falling on wet courts.

The $2/session we have been charging our members all these years made our annual costs to rent the facility a wash by the end of the year (e.g., in 2019, we paid $2,312 to rent the gymnasium, and received $2,336 from our members who played at the B&GC that year.)

The B&GC made it easy to keep our rates low. The organization hadn’t increased its fees since opening its doors in 1987.

Not surprisingly, that largesse couldn’t go on forever. When the B&GC re-opened their gymnasium to outside groups in November, they increased their rental fees to cover the facility’s heating and cleaning costs.

Sequim Picklers’ rent went from $90/week for 9 hours of play ($10/hour) to $185/week for the same amount of play time ($22.55/hour). Rental fees for other groups increased from $185/week to $270/week ($30/hour).

Again, not the real problem.

The Real Problem Over the decade that Sequim Picklers has been renting the B&GC gymnasium, an average of 30 to 40 of our members have turned out to play three days a week.

Since November, an average of only 15 Sequim Picklers members have shown up to play on any given day. (Most members blame the masking requirement for keeping them away.)

That has meant Sequim Picklers is having to subsidize the cost of play for only a handful of players — a situation neither fair nor sustainable in the long run.

To help address some of our immediate cost overruns, the Board voted last week to maintain the current rental agreement with the B&GC and raise individual fees to $5 for members and $7 for guests.

Should enough Sequim Picklers return to play at the B&GC to sustain play at a lesser rate, the Board will look at lowering the entrance fee.

But the fact remains: If our numbers don’t return to the same level we’ve enjoyed in previous years, even the January 1 price hike won’t be enough to cover our monthly costs.

5 Proposals So, what can we do, going forward, to offset the expense of playing pickleball in the only indoor venue in Sequim?

The Sequim Picklers Board and the BG&C have been kicking around the solutions described below. And, yes, we are painfully aware that each of these ideas has a downside.

1. The proposal: Eliminate either Saturday or Sunday play times to reduce costs. In this scenario, rather than having some people play one weekend day and different people play another weekend day, everyone would play the same weekend day, making it easier to meet costs by concentrating fees over fewer hours. Monday night play would remain as is. The downside: This solution could cause us to lose one day of weekend play permanently. According to the B&GC, there is high demand for the gym from other groups in the community during the days and hours we have it reserved. Weekends are particularly in demand. If we give up one weekend day, there is no guarantee we will get it back, even if our member participation markedly increases.

2. Proposal: Increase the fees commensurate with the number of members who show up at the B&GC to play. This proposal could raise individual fees as high as $8 to $10 for one three-hour session, instead of $10/hour for 9 hours of play. While that may sound excessive, according to that noted authority, Dr. Google: Although the cost varies depending on which city you are from, the cost of booking pickleball courts in the U.S. runs anywhere between $10 and $15 an hour. Typically, clubs give discounts to members, or for longer bookings, or for weekday bookings, since the demand for the courts is naturally higher over the weekends. The downside: A price increase this significant puts us at risk of losing the handful of members who currently play at the B&GC despite the mask requirement.

3. Proposal: Allow our group to be bumped on Saturday or Sunday mornings if there is a group willing to pay the “going rate” for gym use during our scheduled time. The downside: Again, we may find ourselves, more often than not, limited to only Monday evenings and one weekend morning — or no weekend mornings — to play.

4. Proposal: Limit play to only Monday evenings (weekday play is slightly less expensive than weekend play), with a guarantee that we could not be bumped by another group willing to pay full price. The downside: We’d end up with only one opportunity a week to play indoors, and only in the evening. [NOTE: Switching to another weeknight is not a possibility, as youth basketball uses the gym Tuesday through Friday evenings.]

5. Proposal: The B&GC would consider lowering our rental fee from $22.50/hour to $15/hour if we agree to give up our guaranteed gym time. That means if another group wants our play time and is willing to pay full price ($30/hour), our play time for that day would be cancelled. The downside: With no guarantees, we couldn’t be sure from week to week when — or if — we would get to play. And we would still pay for 9 hours of play, whether we get to play or not.

Now You See the Problem If you’ve read this far, you can understand why rates for our members to play at the B&GC must go up on Jan. 1. But, you can also see that we’re dealing with a much bigger problem.

Within the confines of the current mask mandate, how can we (a) return to having 30-40 members and guests play at the B&GC Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, or (b) offset the expense of having only a handful of members playing pickleball at the B&GC without draining the Sequim Picklers’ budget dry?

We welcome your thoughts and ideas. Please send them to the Board at sequimpicklers@gmail.com.

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