Bend Pickleball Club is located in Bend, Oregon and is home to 1,000 members with 300+ waitlisted. In 2014, the club introduced live cameras for viewing the courts. The main ways the members use these cameras are to see availability, weather, and overall busyness of the club’s current state. Kirk Foster of Bend Pickleball Club was able to shine more light on the reasoning for adding the cameras almost 10 years ago. Foster also peels back the curtain on the logistics of adding cameras to your facility. Here is what he had to say:
Pickleball Club Mag: First off, Tell me a little bit about your club. When did Bend Pickleball Club open its doors, and where are you located?
Kirk Foster: The Club was formed in 2011 in Bend, Oregon. Pickleball is huge in Bend and the club currently has over 1000 members. We host an annual tournament that brings in up to 700 competitors including professionals from all over the US and Canada.
PCM: How many courts do you currently have?
KF: We don’t own any courts. We contributed financially to the building of 16 courts at Pine Nursery Park by Bend Park and Recreation District (BP&R) and are working with BP&R now to acquire 8 more. We have an ongoing agreement with BP&R that grants the club exclusive use of 12 of the 16 courts from 7:00am to 2:00pm Monday through Thursday.
PCM: What was the reasoning behind purchasing cameras for your courts?
KF: Club members wanted to be able to see what was going on at the courts before making the trip down to play. They were interested in checking court availability and ascertaining weather conditions.
PCM: How long have you had the cameras?
KF: We have had the cameras since 2014.
PCM: What was the process like to get the cameras and set them up? (from finding a vendor, finding the right cameras, setting it all up, and managing the screens, etc)
KF: One of our members, Mike Marentic, with a background in IT did all of the research, design, installation, network setup and maintenance. Mike has since moved on and the system is now maintained by another member, Eric Anderson, who also has an IT background.
PCM: What kind of feedback have you received from your members about the cameras?
KF: Initially the response was very positive. Now, they are pretty much taken for granted and we only hear about them when the system goes down, which is infrequent.
PCM: How have you found having cameras advantageous to you as club operators?
KF: The cameras have proven to be very useful for monitoring courts’ loads, checking for availability, and checking weather.
PCM: What are the things to weigh when considering cameras for your club?
KF: There is a lot of technical expertise required to design, install, and operate the system. This can run into a lot of money before the actual acquisition of equipment. Good quality equipment is also expensive. Along with a reliable power supply, a reliable internet connection is essential, as well as bandwidth and a dedicated URL. The cameras must be weatherproof and durable. Technology changes may have made these things less complicated, but it is still more involved than a Ring doorbell.
PCM: If you were to give advice to other clubs on how to make cameras worth it, what would you say?
KF: “Worth it” is relative to perceived need and available resources. Because we were fortunate to have available funds and a person in the club who was interested in doing the project and had the knowledge and ability to design and install the system, we were able to get cameras going for very little capital outlay and the project was worth it.
PCM: If you could do it all over again, what about the process of researching, purchasing, and installing the cameras would you do differently?
KF: Overall I am pleased with the system which has served us well for many years. If we were to do it again I would again seek out a qualified person to design and maintain the system.
Here is a live view of Bend Pickleball Club: https://bendpickleballclub.com/pine-nursery-camera-views/