Business opportunity in the pickleball market

The articles on this site have been created to help entrepreneurs and investors assess the development of pickleball clubs, centers and facilities. We focus on the latest market information, startups, business operations, marketing issues, financial considerations and more.

Is pickleball a fad? What is the attraction? What business models make sense? What kind of investment makes sense? These and other questions are dealt with in the blog posts noted below.

Contact us to brainstorm or discuss ideas you have on the development of a pickleball club, facility or center.


Where to locate a new pickleball club….lots of choices.

Most states have lots of court play, but with a few exceptions there are almost no paid, dedicated pickleball facilities.  Yet.  

As one example, let’s take a look at one state, Massachusetts.  The Places 2 Play database shows a total of 274 places to play pickleball.  The vast majority of these are outdoor public courts, most using temporary nets, and are largely unavailable during the New England winter.  Next there are YMCAs, community centers and tennis centers that have adapted their outdoor and indoor facilities to accommodate pickleball.  There are a few other multi-purpose sports facilities that have added some form of pickleball.

I could only identify two, yes two, dedicated pickleball clubs in the entire state. Massachusetts is the 16th largest state with a population of 6.7 million.  By contrast, I found a database of 304 tennis court locations in the Boston area alone…and no fewer than 54 dedicated tennis clubs that require dues or court fees.  

In both sports, people have a low cost option: free outdoor courts.  But in tennis there is a well established body of paid clubs.  In pickleball, that is just beginning and the shortage of clubs is attracting more and more entrepreneurs. When considering the launch of a new pickleball club or facility there are several business models to consider. Business-starters cannot help but be drawn to the broad appeal and the phenomenal growth of the sport.

I don’t believe the dynamics in Massachusetts are different from other states.  Texas, a state 6 times the size of Massachusetts, has a few dedicated pickleball centers, but a very small number considering they have 530 court locations listed on Places 2 Play.

The pickleball phenomena is clearly nationwide.  Red states, blue states, warm states cold states, big states, little states.  In fact the Places 2 Play locations pretty much track to overall state populations.  States with the most places to play pickleball are California, Florida, Texas, New York, Illinois, Georgia, and North Carolina.

Pickleball club economics. How to project revenue.

If you want a pickleball club in your neighborhood, let’s get down to the nitty gritty and consider what will drive revenue, expense and ultimately profit.


The Green of Pickleball Revenue
  1. Membership fees: Clubs typically charge an annual or monthly membership fee for access to their facilities and services.
  2. Court rentals: Clubs will also generate revenue by renting courts to non-members for a fee. (Note: some charge members a discounted fee).
  3. Tournaments and events: Hosting tournaments and events will bring in revenue through entry fees, sponsorships, and concessions.
  4. Merchandise sales: Selling pickleball equipment and merchandise can also generate revenue for the club.


  1. Number of members
  2. Membership dues being charged
  3. Initiation fees
  4. Drop-in players (non-members)
  5. Drop-in fees
  6. Open play hours
  7. Open play visitors
  8. Number of courts
  9. Number of hours of court-rental availability
  10. Occupancy percent
  11. Number of tournaments
  12. Number of lessons
  13. Net merchandise sales
  14. Food and Beverage sales
  15. Other sales

    How much revenue can a pickleball club generate? It depends on the specific variables listed above. Click Here to see 2 sample revenue projections for 2 different pickleball businesses.

Pickleball. An intriguing business opportunity. It feels familiar

There are interesting parallels to the boutique fitness rage of the past 20 years

In 2004 I co-founded one of the first spinning (indoor cycling) studios in the country.   It was a new concept tapping into a latent craving for quality fitness experiences. Ultimately we enjoyed considerable success and opened 200+ around the country,  During the same period, dozens of similar boutique fitness concepts enjoyed explosive growth and success.  The face of the entire fitness industry was transformed in those years because of boutique fitness; literally thousands of new businesses sprouted that are thriving today

Parallels to pickleball?

In the beginning spinning was hugely popular in community centers and gyms, but there were few dedicated businesses.  Most pickleball today is done on re-purposed tennis courts and in community centers, we’re at the very beginning of dedicated facilities. Demand is huge, court supply is low.

The attractiveness of spinning was established, we didn’t need to create it.  Our mission was to build on the core appeal of indoor cycling and make it an even better experience.   Similarly, the core appeal of pickleball is established;  successful pickleball clubs and facilities will need to build on that core.

Building on the core for indoor cycling  meant investing in better bikes, better sound systems, cooler studios, more efficient reservation systems and better instructors.  With pickleball, players want better courts, cooler facilities, quality coaching, and simpler access to court time.

With spin, yes it was exercise, but with a fun-ness to it and with a community vibe. That was a big part of the appeal.  With pickle, yes it’s exercise but it’s more than that, it’s fun, it’s community-driven, its’s social, and oh by the way, it’s exercise!

Pickleball construction costs: 8 outdoor courts, or one in your backyard.

For building a pickleball facility, a key startup cost is court construction. Land acquisition is a big question mark and the cost could vary greatly depending on location and other factors. Holding that cost aside, here is a rough estimate of other costs.

  1. Site preparation: This includes clearing and leveling the land, as well as any necessary grading, drainage, and soil stabilization. Estimated cost: $50,000 to $100,000.
  2. Court construction: This includes materials and labor for building the courts themselves, including concrete or asphalt surfaces, court striping, and nets. Estimated cost: $100,000 to $150,000.
  3. Fencing: This includes materials and labor for installing fencing around the courts, including gates and access points. Estimated cost: $50,000 to $75,000.
  4. Lighting: This includes the cost of installing lighting fixtures around the courts, including wiring and poles. Estimated cost: $50,000 to $100,000.
  5. Seating: This includes the cost of installing basic seating for players and spectators, such as benches or bleachers. Estimated cost is $5,000 to $10,000.
  6. Landscaping: Any necessary landscaping, such as planting trees, shrubs, or grass around the courts. Estimated cost is $10,000 to $20,000.
  7. Permits and fees: This includes any necessary permits or fees for construction, zoning, or other regulatory requirements. Estimated cost is $5,000 to $10,000.

TOTAL Estimated Cost: $275,000 to $465,000 depending on various factors (and not including land).

Cost to build one pickleball court in your back yard

  1. Surface construction: The most common options are concrete, asphalt, or an outdoor tile system. Materials and labor can range from $3,000 to $12,000.
  2. Court striping: Once you have your playing surface, you’ll need to mark it with the appropriate lines: Labor and materials: $500 – $800.
  3. Net and posts: temporary nets are $150, pro-nets can be as much as $2,000.
  4. Fencing: Important to contain the ball! The cost will depend on the size and type of fencing, but can range from $500 to $2,500.
  5. Lighting: If you plan to play in the evenings or early mornings, you’ll need proper lighting. $1,000 to $5,000 depending.
  6. Seating: basic seating $300 to $1,000
  7. Landscaping: can range from $500 to $2,000 or more.

TOTAL $4,000 to $20,000

Selecting a pickleball club location

Let’s not make this more complicated than it needs to be.  There are just a few basic options for launching a pickleball center in your community.

1) Buy or lease property and build a facility from scratch.
Plus:  Get exactly what you want
Minus:  Expensive and slow to market

2) Buy or lease a non-fitness building, and convert to pickleball
Plus:  Quicker to market, and less expensive than building
Minus: Finding location with good access might be tough

3) Buy, lease or convert an existing  fitness or tennis facility to pickleball
Plus: Quickest to market, less expensive
Minus:  Hard to find, or already converted

Building from scratch makes the most sense if you own, or can lease a super ideal spot. This approach is also good if you want unique amenities like a bar, restaurant, or retail.

Other considerations:

  1. Local zoning and regulations: Depending on the location, there may be zoning laws or regulations that restrict the use of certain types of buildings 
  2. Community demographics: Consider the demographic makeup of the local community, as this can affect the demand.
  3. Competition: Research the existing pickleball facilities in the area.
  4. Partnership opportunities: Consider partnering with existing fitness or sports facilities to offer pickleball as an additional amenity. This could help reduce costs and increase visibility.
  5. Amenities and equipment: In addition to a bar, restaurant, or retail, consider other amenities that could make the facility more attractive to customers, such as locker rooms, showers, and rental equipment.

Revenue estimates for 2 different pickleball businesses.

In the business plan for a pickleball club or center, different assumptions on the type of facility can result in dramatically different revenue profiles. Here are two examples, one is a $264,000 per year business, the other generates $720,000 per year

SCENARIO A ($22k per month, $264,000 per annum)
A small court-driven model with limited retail and food and beverage. In this model, the total monthly revenue is just over $22,000

Revenue potential depends

Court Rental:
6 courts available 8 hours per day
30% occupancy rate
Average hourly court rental fee: $30
Monthly court rental revenue = $8,640

150 members paying $50 per month
Monthly membership revenue: $10,000

Tournaments / Lessons
6 tournaments per year generating $2,000 each
Monthly tournament revenue = $1,000
Lessons and clinics = $1,000 per month
Retail merchandise / food and beverage = $1,000 per month

SCENARIO B ($60,000 per month – $720,000 per annum)
A large court and entertainment-driven model with emphasis on retail and food and beverage. In this model, the total monthly revenue is just over $60,000

Is the sky the limit?

Court Rental:
10 courts available 8 hours per day
30% occupancy rate
Average hourly court rental fee: $40
Monthly court rental revenue = $19,200

250 members paying $60 per month
Monthly membership revenue: $15,000

Tournaments / Lessons
6 tournaments per year generating $2,000 each
Monthly tournament revenue = $1,000
Lessons and clinics = $3,000 per month

Retail merchandise / food and beverage = $21,000 per month

8 reasons for pickleball’s insane growth.

Accessibility, Laughter, Simplicity, Economy, Health…….and more

Yes, the growth numbers are insane.  Wherever you turn there’s data on the crazy growth of “America’s fastest growing sport”.  39% growth in 2 years per SFIA, but that seems conservative when I look at my own experience in one small town. There’s quibbling over growth rates, but most agree the growth is immense.  WHY?

  1. Accessibility.  Old, young or middle-aged, anyone with even modest athletic ability can get up to speed within days or weeks and play at a reasonable level (NOT true with tennis or golf).
  2. Laughter.  It’s just plain fun.  Surprising shots and rallies are common at every level and stuff happens that just makes you laugh.  This is not common in most competitive sports.  The fun factor is huge.
  3. Simplicity. Small court, minimal gear, short games.  Games go quickly and there is very little time between points.
  4. Community.  Most groups welcome new players, foster an inclusive vibe, and rotate play through multiple partners and teams.  This and the sideline court waiting time make it a social activity as well as exercise.
  5. Strategy.  Once you know the basics, there are nuances and thinking that come into play.  Strategic (cagey) players can often beat more athletic opponents.
  6. Exercise.  But it’s low impact.  Most people play doubles, and with a small court, movements are short and rapid favoring quickness and reflexes but not requiring super strength or endurance.  All that said, an hour of Pickleball will burn roughly 400 calories about the same as a jog and much more fun.
  7. Economy.  Little gear to spend money on, balls last for months!  There’s lots of public courts, and court time at facilities is relatively inexpensive when you play with a group.
  8. Year-round.  Can be played indoors or outdoors, there are pluses and minuses to each, but you can always get a game!

Building an experience-driven pickleball club

Enhancing your court facility with amenities like seating areas, food and bar, retail and other games can dramatically enhance the business potential.

At one end of the spectrum is the “court-driven” model.  A pickleball business focused primarily on court rental, memberships, lessons and related services.  At the other end of the spectrum is the “lifestyle megaplex” where pickleball is at the core of an ‘eater-tainment’  business that includes, courts, restaurants, bars, other entertainment, retail shopping, community events and more.  There are of course variations between these two extremes.

Founders of the court-driven model are often turned off by the complexity and perceived risks of food and beverage.  “I don’t want to get into the restaurant business” is a common refrain.  This is somewhat understandable, but this position also dramatically limits the business potential.  A successful pickleball club with a well-run bar and restaurant gets several interwoven benefits:

  • A more diverse revenue stream
  • A more diverse customer base (pickleball players AND non-players)
  • An experience-driven environment that drives customer loyalty
  • As a result of the above, a much bigger potential profit

Ask any microbrewery business (a similar explosive craze business) about the profit margins of creating an experience driven business, and about the profit margins in selling alcohol.  Craft breweries are an interesting parallel to pickleball centers.  They’ve exploded on the scene, they build community and they’re experience driven.  Pickleball clubs have the same appeal, but are centered around exercise, AND attract a broader customer base in terms of age.

Successful Pickleball businesses are using the core product of court-play as the center of a complementary family of diversified offerings.  

The quintessential customer pays a monthly membership fee, buys court time, joins friends for drinks, grabs a quick meal, buys the latest gear, and rents the venue for his wife’s birthday party.

Is pickleball a fad?

Underlying factors point to a long term trend, not a short term fad

The reality?  No one knows.  That said, there are some underlying reasons for its popularity that would seem to suggest it’s here to stay.  Here is an insightful quote from an opinion piece in the Washington Post:

“…..It’s easy to dismiss pickleball as a silly fad; it is, after all, called pickleball. But with so many people of different backgrounds coming together to play it, at a time when such camaraderie feels increasingly rare, there might be lessons to be gleaned from the sport’s sudden ubiquity….”

The current growth rate is probably not sustainable, but its appeal to multiple demographics and the underlying attractiveness factors, create a strong case that it is here to stay and likely to grow further.  The Post opinion piece goes on to say:

“….After all, getting Americans out of the house, moving and talking to one another is harder than ever. In recent decades, social isolation and polarization have been on the rise while overall physical activity has decline. All these trends have been exacerbated by the pandemic….”

The underlying appeal of pickleball (it’s fun, it’s social, it’s exercise, it’s easy) cannot be denied.  The demand for things fun,social, and healthy is not likely to go away.  Even if the growth rate slows, pickleball businesses are worth considering right now because the demand is high, and the supply of well run, well-organized, high quality facilities is only just beginning to appear.  In many many places, aging tennis courts with temporary nets are the norm.   Those will continue to exist (and that’s great!), but we’re already well into the next generation of pickleball.  Places like Naples, Orem, Atlanta and Dallas feature state-of-the-art facilities but still only fulfill a small percentage of the overall demand.

Opening a pickleball club

Critical success factors, different niches and strategies to consider

If you are a pickleball player and someone in business, and if you have an entrepreneurial bone in your body I’m sure you’ve thought to yourself: “this is an insane market and there has to be some great opportunities in it”.  Yes there are.  And like in any market, the people who get in reasonably early AND execute well, can build great businesses.  The pickleball industry, because its big enough now to be called an industry, has multiple layers:

  • Gear, accessories and clothing
  • Clinics, camps and education
  • Club and facility operations
  • League and tournament activities
  • Media
  • Construction and equipment
  • Technical and financial services

At the core of all this is of course people playing pickleball on an actual court.  Right now, and for some time to come, there is a dire need for more courts.  There’s a capacity issue, a simple matter of supply and demand. 

If you’re sold on the market and believe as I do that this is not just a fad, then you’re considering investing in a pickleball club, or a pickleball facility. The business plan you create will need to consider a few unique dynamics of this market.

  1. What are the players in your market used to?  They’re playing somewhere today, Is it indoors or outdoors? On what quality court?  Is playing time good?  Do they socialize, or just play?  What can you do to make everything better? What is important to create so people who are often playing for free….will pay.
  2. Do you have a plan to be sure the unique community vibe of pickleball is preserved and leveraged?   This is a critical element in the rapid growth of the game.

Obviously any pickleball club business plan will project startup costs, operating revenue and expenses, and the financial viability.   At the end of the day, driving revenue will come down to how well you execute on the things outlined above.  These are the things that bring people in.  Where the rubber meets the court.

The unique community vibe of pickleball

This is a critical component in pickleball’s popularity. Or as we say about pickleball up here in the cold, cynical  Northeast “…..how come everyone is so damned friendly here?  I don’t get it…..”

There’s been plenty written, but let me summarize:  In this era of social media, cynicism, division and incivility, there seem to be few opportunities to get out, meet new people and share a common experience….i.e. To feel part of a community.   Pickleball seems to help fulfill that basic human desire in some unique way.

Wow.  Heavy.  But it seems to be true.  Look at your own experience as a player.  One day someone asks you to play, and a few months later you’ve got 20 new friends, you’re on a daily text thread or app, you’ve run into new folks at the grocery store and you’re swapping info on cool youtube pickleball videos.  Oh, and by the way, you’ve laughed out loud on the court with these people…..many times.  You may have even helped organize a fundraiser or holiday party.

Maybe it’s the intimacy: four people in a small space

Maybe it’s the roots of the sport:  backyard & driveways with family and neighbors

Maybe it’s the funny language: pickle, dink, bashers, kitchen

Maybe it’s the cool sound the ball makes striking a paddle

Maybe it’s the laughing:  funny shots, rallies,  bounces and comments

Maybe it’s all of the above

Every article or analysis of the growth of the pickleball market mentions this factor.  It’s not just that the game itself is good, although that is huge, it’s that there is a community experience that comes along with it that makes it bigger than the game.  

Is there another sport where this is true to the same extent?  I can’t think of one.

Any pickleball club or pickleball facility business needs to take this factor into consideration.  To encourage it, to nurture it and to build it into any plan that hopes to attract a loyal customer base.