Basketball courts

Reality of Public Basketball Courts in Westside

By STEVE SWOGETINSKY

If young people in Philadelphia are looking for a place to play basketball in their free time, they will get an extra gift this Christmas.

The former tennis courts at the Westside Community Center have been transformed into outdoor public basketball courts.

They have been cobbled and scratched. The fence has been replaced. New lenses have been installed and soon LED lights will be installed so that games and other activities can take place at night.

There are four goals and two full pitches. The public will be able to have two full-court games or four half-court games at the same time.

Parks Superintendent Cody Bryan said the courts would be open to the public by the first of the year. Lighting will come up later after trenching and utilities have been completed.

Bryan said the project would end up costing between $40,000 and $45,000. It wasn’t all public, Bryan added. He said it was a combined effort of the city, other public entities and individuals working together to achieve a good project.

The idea began when local businessman Philip Prince approached Bryan about the possibility of renovating the old courthouses behind Booker T.

“Philip called me about the courts,” Bryan said, “He remembered that was where the basketball courts were when he was a kid. He said, “I’m looking to set up beautiful outdoor basketball courts.” He said these won’t be your typical goals; that he wanted to have very beautiful things.

Bryan had discussed this possibility with Mayor James Young. But they thought it would be better to convert the Westside site.

“We were talking about having the back yard go through the Westside baseball field,” Bryan said. “I explained this to Philip. He said he didn’t know those courts were there, but he thought it would be good,” Bryan said.

“Philip said he and his family wanted to donate the goals and lights. We asked the city to put asphalt on the pitches. Jerry Byrd did the striping.

“We appreciate what Philip Prince and his family and the City of Philadelphia are doing to make this happen,” Bryan said. “We appreciate Philadelphia Utilities and Central Water helping out with the lights. It is a collective effort. »

Prince said he came up with the idea while talking to his friend Jacob Boler who runs Kids Over Everything, a local youth organization. He gives bags of books to local students before school starts each year.

“We need a place to play.” said Prince. “Cody suggested the tennis courts. The city has paved tennis courts. Other people entered. We got the goals and painted them. I would say it’s a community effort.

“It’s a first class place. It’s one of the best outdoor courts you can have, and it’s here in Philadelphia,” Prince said. “We will be able to do things at night with the lights. We will try to keep this under control. We want to do things at night when it’s hot and on weekends. We can do things like skills camps and tournaments. We can put bleachers here if we need them,” Prince said.

Bryan said the lights would likely have timers to prevent neighbors from being disturbed by noise after a while.

“During the day it will be first come, first served,” Bryan said. “In the future, they are going to do basketball camps. It will be a good deal for the children. It is also for the adults but especially for the children. They will have a place to go and play and recharge their batteries. .

Prince was a high school basketball star at Leake Academy and later played college ball at East Central Community College and then the University of Southern Mississippi.

Boler and Prince plan to use the courts initially to allow young children to learn the game and be able to play in a safe environment.

“The goal is to have volunteers around to teach the hoop game and mentor the kids in the hoops and in the game of life,” Prince said.