America’s first and only public jai-alai court is getting a makeover. After major expansion work in late 2021 that brought the cancha close to regulation amateur sizing for international tournament play, a couple of wrinkles needed to be addressed. The overhead protection screen, designed to protect wild throws from going into a soccer practice court adjacent to the cancha (and tennis courts further east of the court), was a few feet too low. On top of that, the netting was sagging, getting into the play of action on throws that normally would land in play. After 14 months of extensive playing, parts of the walls – both in the front and side were cracking apart. The overhead black paneling above the front wall was not able to protect multiple balls from getting thrown up and stuck on top of the 8” wide front wall. A tall ladder is needed to retrieve the “lost” Matt balls, often getting left up there for days till someone has the balls to go up there.
The entire screen area has been raised by about 4 feet, with the right side the most critically needed. The walls have been patched; with new thick black padding added along the entire right side just outside of the front wall. Work has also been done to the metal chopa and the paneling below it.
The next phase will include work on the rear sunshades, to help players better see the ball attempting to make rebotes coming and blinded by the sunset, usually right behind the back wall facing the west.
The goal is to ultimately raise the center cable to 8 feet above the walls, doubling the amount it is now after the first phase.
Then finally, the “makeup” gets put on the cancha. The unsightly white effervescence, “leaking” from the cinder blocks that were added to the court on its expansion work in late 2021, will be cleaned up and then the walls all getting a fresh coat of green paint.
A fundraiser by Belota last summer along with construction work run by NJAA/Sunshine League contractors Scott King and Eric Lanctot were able to pull this project off. Puryear Park jai-alai founder Paul Kubala was director of the project. And a special thanks to all those that donated their time on the 3-day project that was competed over the previous weekend.