Dodgeball-Tennis Turf Battle Prompts Park Ranger Intervention at Cal Anderson

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The dodgeball enthusiasts of Capitol Hill covet the tennis courts at Cal Anderson Park. Problem is, so do the actual tennis players. The two sides have been wrangling with the city Parks and Recreation Department over who has rights to the space since people first began showing up to the courts to chuck rubber balls at each other three years ago. But the dispute may have been resolved last night, when two park rangers showed up to kick the dodgeballers out.

The appearance of the park rangers came on the heels of the most recent dispute at the court. According to some players, police arrived at the park last week after someone called 911 to complain about the dodgeball players they said were hogging the space. According to Seattle Parks and Recreation spokesperson Dewey Potter, the dodgeball players refused to leave. After receiving another complaint last night, two uniformed park rangers were sent in to kick the players out.

As it turns out, former Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Timothy Gallagher barred the dodgeballers from playing on city park property nearly two years ago. But that ruling has never been enforced, says Steve "Poppa" Widmer, a regular of the twice-per-week matches.

Still, the incident may have come at an opportune moment for Seattle Street Dodgeball, the loosely organized group that helps run the games. Widmer says the group has received little in the way of updates since Parks and Rec announced that it was considering a plan to convert a tennis court at Judkins Park in the Central into a dodgeball court. That option has drawbacks, however. Unlike Cal Anderson, Judkins Park is in an area of the city that doesn't have a lot of foot traffic, something some players say is integral in growing the game.

Meanwhile, the city plans to continue enforcement of the ban, says Potter. Signs announcing that use of the court will be restricted to tennis only are set to go up in September. Widmer says Seattle Street Dodgeball will lobby Parks and Rec to stay enforcement of the ruling for at least as long as it takes the city to find them a permanent home.

 
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