Calgarians fancying themselves nothing but net now have a new court to live out their hoop dreams.
The Bridgeland Sport Court, located within Murdoch Park, was officially opened to the public on Saturday. It followed a soft-opening week that saw the courts packed nearly every day.
The space has three basketball half-courts facing outwards in a circle, allowing multiple groups to play simultaneously without any one group dominating the entire court.
“It’s amazing, even for the city as a whole, and for basketball in Calgary,” said Ali McMillan, planning director for the Bridgeland Riverside Community Association.
“We’re going to be getting our first pro basketball team coming to the city, and the momentum is really behind the sport. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in Canada… so it’s just amazing to have this come to this community.”
The courts are designed for the fast growing popularity of 3×3 basketball, which made its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.
Sheila Taylor, CEO for the Parks Foundation Calgary, praised the design. She called it a sport park that is all about equity and inclusivity.
“What you often see at sport parks is you’ll see them be very exclusive. They’ll be dominated by really experienced players that are running back and forth in the court,” she said.
“This design is unique and it really lends itself to a much more inclusive style of playing. You’re gonna have young kids on one hoop, you’re gonna have experienced players on another, and you’re gonna have a family on another, and they all feel like they have a place.”
Members of the University of Calgary Dino’s Men’s basketball team were on hand to show off the 3×3 sport. They gave lessons and drills to local kids ahead of a community 3×3 tournament.
The Calgary Flames Foundation provided basketballs for the opening event.
Low-cost design with big impact
The court cost approximately $200,000 to build. Funding and support was provided by Bridgeland businesses, and Bridgeland community members, alongside the City of Calgary, Calgary Foundation, Parks Foundation Calgary, the Calgary Flames Foundation, and the Bridgeland Riverside Community Association.
Taylor said that compared to other projects, the courts were lower cost and quicker to build.
“I think it just goes to show that with people working together, you can quickly achieve some pretty impactful results in a community,” Taylor said.
“There will be hundreds of people that will be coming to this court, even just to watch their friends play, and that’s instead of maybe sitting at home experiencing isolation or inactivity.”
McMillan called the courts a huge value for Calgarians.
“The amount of use this court is getting, the community building that’s going to come from this, and the growth of the sport is worth every penny of effort,” she said.
“We really had sponsors step up, and if it wasn’t for our community sponsors we wouldn’t be here.”
Model for the city, said Councillor
Taylor said the use of the courts, even before the official opening, helps Park Foundation Calgary believe in the potential for other communities in the city.
“I think that the creativity of this sport and its uniqueness, it does lend itself to a whole new kind of use, and I think it sparks an interest in getting outside and being active that we can we can translate into a lot of other Calgary communities,” she said.
Ward 9 Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra called the courts an example of what happens when community comes together.
“Local communities do either do two things: They either resist change, which creates awkward situations where you have that top down, bottom up tension. Or you have local communities like Bridgeland that embrace change and drive the kinds of places where people get to live, have all different kinds and play and recreate together, and have all kinds of business opportunities,” he said.
“This really is the model.”
He said that his slogan for the city is “no densification without amenities.”
“Council has said for the last 11 years that I’ve been on council, that we need to densify our city, we need to grow up, we have to stop sprawling outwards,” Carra said.
“If we’re going to encourage people to live in higher density, we have to give them rewards for doing so. Parks like Murdoch Park and facilities like the sport court are exactly what we’re talking about.”