The south end of Judkins Park is now a hot spot of activity


Bike Polo players held a tournament in the old tennis courts

As spring rolls in and days get longer and warmer, the very south end of Jundkins Park could very well be one of the most active park areas in the Central District.

With the recent opening of the Judkins Skatespot, the sometimes forgotten patch of land between I-90 and S Judkins Street is already seeing tons of activity.

A Parks Department decision in 2010 designated the old tennis courts for alternative uses, and bike polo players soon built the court into the best polo spot in the city, complete with boards and the ability to have two games going at once.

As people with skateboards join the basketball and increasingly-popular bike polo games — as well as the ever-growing number of people cycling through the area on the I-90 and Judkins Park Trails — there are more people hanging out in the area than ever. It will be interesting to watch what the summer brings.

Here are a few photos from Sunday:


11 thoughts on “The south end of Judkins Park is now a hot spot of activity

  1. It’s very cool to see the bike polo being played but most of the year, those courts sit unused. I don’t mind that the surface is no longer perfect for tennis but the courts should be reverted back for the long periods that bike polo isn’t happening. I’m guessing they prefer other locations and only choose this location when they have regional tournaments.

    That said, I’m enjoying seeing these facilities used. Yesterday was very cool and I welcome the skate park. What else can they put in the space? Don’t forget a light rail station might be nearby one day.

    • Well, I believe one reason the bike polo folks don’t use it a lot in the winter because the courts don’t have lights, which is why they play at Cal Anderson. This would be the same issue for tennis, though.

      Plus, there are really nice tennis courts over in Sam Smith Park just down the trail (one of the reasons the Parks Dept picked the courts for alternative uses)

      • The Tennis courts were well used. They fact that they were there was a point of contention with the Parks Dept.. Parks did not want to put courts there (or any amenity in the area for that matter.) but were required to as per the agreement to build I-90. The four community councils all wanted courts there and on the Mt. Baker side. Parks built great courts on the Mt. Baker side with a good surface, benches, signage and a portapotty. They intentionally put a unfinished surface on the Judkins courts, no benches to make them a bleak as possible so no one would want to use them. They were used anyway but never maintained by Parks. They intentionally let the POLO people use them without any notice or meetings with the surrounding community. Hey, Bike polo is great, but to try and pit one long tern parks users against the other is the racist legacy of Parks in the CD. It would be easy to pour a large concrete rectangle the size Bike Polo people need, put a fence around it and let them have it in the same area but noooo, Parks wanted to eliminate somethings that brought the immediate community together years before. Like the Spray pool that was designed by a resident Landscape Architect and built by the Judkins Community, it is a point of contention by Parks and not maintained, hoping that it, like the Tennis Court, is set up to fail. By the way the Parks board final ruling allows tennis (and other sprots) on the now polo area by scheduling it. They call the tennis to be played there, called “netless tennis”, adding insult to injury. I propose that a larger Bike Polo pad be built with lights in the area, and we get our tennis courts back, finished with benchs and all the amenities the Mt. Baker side has. The more active sports in the area the better!

  2. I could hear that crowd from two blocks away- it was great to see so much activity in the park. Very cool.

    @Dave: I’ve noticed that the tennis courts make for a good practice surface for skaters who aren’t up for the skate-park during prime time. So that’s one way the surface is getting used.

  3. To Dave’s point:
    “I’m guessing they prefer other locations…”
    The reason bike polo (and everyone else for that matter) doesn’t play at Judkins during the winter months is due to the fact that there aren’t any lights. The court is completely dark during the winter months by 5. The lack of lights makes the area rather unsafe and unusable for sporting activities. There several club and non-club sports other than bike polo (Futsol, RC racing, Skating, Handball, and Dodge-ball) that use this space. Judkins, despite not having lights for the winter and not having any seating area for spectators is still a great site for the multi-use courts.

    To Byron’s points:
    “Tennis courts were well used”
    Not completely accurate. The courts were being used but not for tennis because far superior courts with lights and an awesome surface exist just two blocks away on the other side of 23rd and on the other side of MLK. Prior to being used as multi-use courts they were being used as a bathroom for dogs, a place to throw glass and a garbage dump.

    “They intentionally let the POLO people use them without any notice…”
    Actually the city put a notice on the courts from each entrance siting a trial period of 18months for the pilot project to allow sports other than tennis to use this otherwise unused space. TRUE, a letter wasn’t sent out to the community. Bike polo didn’t start using the courts until well after the space had a tennis court. The bike polo community chose those courts because they were never being used. They actually cleaned the courts from glass, garbage , and other sharp objects so that they could be used safely.

    “It would be easy to pour a large concrete rectangle the size Bike Polo people need…”
    Easy isn’t a word that should be used to get anything done with the city. Where would you pour it? How would you pay for it? The Bike Polo and Futsol community have been trying to get lights installed at the basketball courts, multi-use (former tennis only) court and bike path for over a year to no avail due to a lack of available city resources. Any changes made to the park takes a lot of work and effort.

    “Parks wanted to eliminate some things that brought the immediate community together years before…”
    Sounds like you are making the claim that the people using the courts now don’t live in the area. Most of the bike polo community lives in the CD, others are spread throughout Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill. The Futsol group is also spread all over the city and the main organizer (voluntarily organizes soccer practices and futsol games for members of the community) lives in the CD. There are over 144 public outdoor tennis courts in the city of Seattle, two of those courts have been converted to multi-use courts to accommodate non-tennis sports. The multi-use courts provide a means to bring the community together by providing alternatives to tennis.

    “…propose that a larger Bike Polo pad be built with lights in the area…” Great
    However the likelihood that the city would spend any amount of money on multi-use court with lights is slim to non-given the fact that they won’t even put the money up to light the existing assets in the park.

  4. Troy you missed the all bigger points in my truthful account. Yes they were well used as much as they could have been because of intentional non-maintenance by Parks, but they were well used. I and others used them and many times I had to wait our turn. Why go two blocks to the other courts when we have courts here? Why didn’t bike polo go to the courts two blocks away and take them. Ohh yaa that area is mostly white and wealthy where our area is percieved as poor and black, couldn’t get away with that there!. No matter how you want to justify it is one of many stark examples in the CD of lack of respect and fairness by Parks in general. Those of us who have lived here for decades know what and why.
    As for designing a retangle with a fence it is a easy design and easier to site and a cheap capital budget item. As a design professional I know.

    • “they were well used as much as they could have been because of intentional non-maintenance by Parks, but they were well used”
      My neighbor’s car is “well used” as much as it could have been as well, but given his lack of maintenance that was not at all. It wasn’t until his son came home from the Navy that it was overhauled that it actually served its purpose as a transportation vehicle. Lower judkins is a similar situation. It wasn’t being used, people in the area complained that the nets were crap, the surface was crap, there is always trash, glass and garbage on them and that they weren’t acceptable.

      “Why go two blocks to the other courts when we have courts here?”
      Because the other courts are cleaner, in better shape and lit, which make it possible to enjoy your sport year round.

      “As for designing a retangle with a fence it is a easy design and easier to site and a cheap capital budget item. As a design professional I know”
      Sure anyone could design it but if you are really a design professional and have ever worked with a municipality, you know it isn’t easy at all to get things approved for any type of new construction.

      Byron you are assuming racism but have zero proof in this specific situation. Yes, there is a history of neglect of the CD, its people and the assets/resources based on racism but this is not one of those examples. With the recent gentrification of the CD I think more longtime residents are feeling accosted by the changes that are seen as improvements, but just labeling all change as racist makes it sound like you don’t want any improvements to happen. It does us (I’m assuming, possibly incorrectly, that you are also black) no good to broadly label actions as racist if we can’t substantiate the claim. You end up sounding like the boy who cried wolf. Also, painting the the picture that the “other courts” on the east side of 23rd as “mount baker” is an attempt to push this angle of racism but the courts are in your neighborhood. They are closer to Judkins than any CD business or non-residential establishment (except maybe Shiloh Church). There is a multi-use court in Capitol Hill which bike polo waits for just like everyone else. It is in a so-called white neighborhood.

      • Troy you either work for Parks or are in denial or want to be in denial. You arguement holds is not grounded in reality. I and many who have lived here for decades know. You are still missing the major points I brought and it seems intentional.

        Unless there is a major shift from old school politely racist Seattle people like you will continue to intenionally deny the obvious. I was hoping McGinn would get it and change it.

      • Facts haaa haaa no such thing from what you have chosen to write. Repeat it over and over maybe it can become revisionist history. You obviously have not been around here very long and your goals are selfserving.

  5. Aren’t all goals selfserving? As in, are all humans ever 100% transparent in their motives? …. It’s safe to assume we all have our own motives.

    How long is long enough?

    Is two blocks too far to walk to participate in a sporting activity?