Pickleball growth: one town’s history

Pickleball growth has been amazing, and there are many reasons for the appeal. For a real world example, my own experience illustrates a trend and a phenomena playing out across the country. In a period of 14 months, in one small town in Connecticut, a pickleball community blossomed…out of nowhere.  From 2 guys playing singles to a growing community of over 100 players participating in various Pickleball and social events.  This is one specific case history, sound familiar?

Pickleball growth timeline…happened fast!

Pickleball Growth Statistics

November 2021
2 guys asked the local YMCA to allow them to bring their own net and play at 6:00 am twice a week.  (Y had 2 courts lined out on gym floor)

January 2022
8-10 regulars emerge and a round robin rotation system gets put in place.  A custom built paddle holder appears to regulate round robin process

March 2022
Group grows to 16-20, a third day is added.  Team Reach app is used to organize and communicate amongst the group. 

More players spurs beginner program, addition of courts and plan for outdoor re-purposing.

June 2022
Group grows to 30+, a fourth day is added (with extended hours).

August 2022
Group grows to 50, a fifth day is added (with extended hours)  Group lobbies ‘Y’ for more courts and to refurbish outdoor facility.

December 2022
A sixth day is added,  players rent courts at a local tennis facility and have a holiday Pickle & Party event.  Players further lobby YMCA for more courts and for outdoor tennis court renovation for pickle.  Total participants top 100.

January 2023
a volunteer crew begins ‘taping’ a 3rd court 3x per week to accommodate demand.  Beginner clinics are instituted drawing dozens more players.  Playing time becomes tough at Y so several advanced groups split off and pay for court time at local tennis facility. Finally 3 courts are permanently lined.

March 2023
A committee of ‘Y’ pickleball players is formed to present a plan to the YMCA management team. The plan primarily addresses the refurbishment of 2 outdoor tennis courts and converting them to 5 or 6 pickleball courts.

This timeline is one real world example of how a Pickleball community grew organically because of it’s unique appeal. Demand for court time in Mystic, Connecticut has outstripped supply creating a classic pickleball supply and demand issue. players are now scrambling to find courts…..and beginning to pay. Summer will open up some public courts as more and more are being adapted for pickle, but pickleball growth and participation shows no signs of slowing.

Cool new pickleball concepts tap into increased demand for court play

The insane growth in demand for pickleball courts and facilities has driven a raft of new business startups around the country. The first wave of pickleball was played in driveways, streets, parking lots and re-purposed public tennis.  Then it was gyms, community centers, condo complex’s and custom-built pickle centers.  The latest?  Specialty concepts integrating elements of sports, games, shopping, food, beverage and community.  These new centers are taking advantage of the growing demand for pickleball courts.

Examples of pickleball businesses recently launched or in progress

Chicken n’ Pickle
Well established indoor/outdoor entertainment complex including a casual, chef-driven restaurant and sports bar, pickleball courts and a variety of yard games.  6 locations in TX, OK and KS, 3 more in the coming year.  Typical configuration is 10 courts, outdoor leisure space and emphasis on food and bar.

Pickle Juice
Smoothie and Juice bar in 13,600 square feet tied to 4 indoor courts.  Plans to open 2 locations in New Jersey in the coming year.

Bangers and Dinks (love the name)
A primarily court-driven concept planned to open this summer near Richmond, VA.  25,000-square-foot center with eight indoor courts.  Housed in a former retail spot next to a Dicks Sporting Goods.

Pickle n’ Chill
Indoor / Outdoor Pickleball Hub.  Six Dedicated Indoor Courts (Opened November 2022) Five Dedicated Outdoor Courts (Opening Spring 2023). Food and Beverage Lounge and Special Event space. Lessons, Leagues, Reserved Courts, Round Robins, Open Play, Tournaments, Corporate Events. Youth camps.

Pickleball clubs from 4-20 courts are popping up in small towns as well as cities and suburbs

Electric Pickle
Pickleball-themed entertainment complex is set to open in Tempe, AZ.   Plan is nine courts, as well as space for cornhole and bocce. Plans also include a two-story restaurant and three bars, including a rooftop bar and balcony, that can serve 600 guests. Lawn for live music and gatherings.  Electric Pickle’s first U.S. location and Eureka! Restaurant Group — the California-based parent company of Rockets & Pineapples, which backs Electric Pickle — plans to open more in Texas and the Southwest.

Best places to play pickleball

Smash Park
Since 2018, 2 locations in Iowa, planned for MN and NB.  4 indoor/2 outdoor courts at each location.  TVs, outdoor space, entertainment emphasis with offerting that include food, drink, special events, other games, community happenings.

Real Dill
High end retail destination concept with 7-10 pickleball courts at the core.  Family areas, other games, extensive shopping,  specialty classes on wellness and other offerings.  First one to open in St. Louis this year, future locations planned.

Few details and timing released other than its a $4 million project in Malvern, PA that will feature 16 courts and a full coaching program.  Seems primarily court-driven.

Goodbounce Pickle Yard
45,000 square feet in Louisville, KY.  Calls themselves an “eatertainment” complex with six pickleball courts, a game yard and a restaurant. They are partnering with a local restauranteur with a strong reputation   Will feature a rotating menu of fusion dishes like build-your-own tacos, burritos, nachos and bowls, gourmet burgers, fried chicken and small plates.  Launched by co-founder of a successful local micro-brewery.

Near Charleston, SC.  First announced in 2021, planned to open this year. The Pickle Bar is a new restaurant, retail and recreation concept that combines the growing popularity of pickleball with a southern-inspired bar and restaurant. Spanning over 40,000 sq/ft, the Pickle Bar will include a casual restaurant and bar, 9 outdoor pickleball courts, a game yard and a stage.

Camp Pickle
Planned for Huntsville, AL in 2024 will feature a “1940s national park/summer camp” motif, with food and beverage being 80% of revenues.   The indoor/outdoor locations are expected to measure 55,000-75,000 square feet, with 10-14 pickleball courts, plus other “old school” games such as darts and duckpin bowling.   Corporate and other events will be major piece of their plan.

Pickleball Business Advisors is brothers Bill and John Pryor.  We provide a variety of consulting services based on extensive experience in fitness business development, and research into the fast growing pickleball marketplace.  To initiate a feasibility assessment for your pickleball club, or for other consulting, contact us so we can learn about your project.

Demand for dedicated pickleball centers means business opportunity

Find Dedicated Pickleball Courts

The growing popularity of pickleball has resulted in a supply and demand issue, and a strong need for dedicated pickleball facilities. Too many players, not enough courts. Many areas still lack enough courts to meet the demand for pickleball courts. This article will outline opportunities and issues across the country for building courts to fulfill demand. Many cities have lots of public playable courts, but with a few exceptions there are almost no paid, dedicated pickleball facilities.  Yet.  

One example of the need for dedicated pickleball facilities. Massachusetts

The Places 2 Play database shows a total of 274 places to play pickleball in Massachussetts. 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.

There are a growing number of examples of new facilities and clubs springing up to fulfill demand

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. It is no surprise that some of the most interesting new pickleball clubs, centers are facilities are being built in these states, but the reality is they are popping up everywhere. Even very small towns are no exception.

Pickleball Business Advisors is brothers Bill and John Pryor.  We provide a variety of consulting services based on extensive experience in fitness business development, and research into the fast growing pickleball marketplace.  To initiate a feasibility assessment for your pickleball club, or for other consulting, contact us so we can learn about your project.

Pickleball court supply and demand

Pickleball Court Supplies Growth
Pickleball’s Astounding Growth

Pickleball, a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong (and chess!) has been gaining immense popularity in recent years. The game, which is played on a smaller court than tennis and requires less physical exertion, has attracted people of all ages and fitness levels. Additionally, the low learning curve and social aspects of the sport have made it an attractive option for beginners and experienced players alike. Another reason for pickleball’s explosive growth is its accessibility – the game can be played indoors or outdoors, and requires minimal equipment. These factors have contributed to the sport’s insane growth and increasing popularity.

The growth and popularity of pickleball has been steady of a decade or more, but it has accelerated in the past few years leading to higher demand for dedicated pickleball facilities and courts. Pickleball court capacity issue

More pickleball courts are needed

There are 10 million regular tennis players in the U.S. playing on 250,000 tennis courts. Depending on whose data you believe, the number of regular pickleball players is at least 6 million, and maybe much more.  The estimates of pickleball courts in the U.S. ranges from 10,000 to 30,000.  Even at 30,000 the ratio of courts to players is far below that of tennis, and pickleball is growing much faster than tennis.  By some estimates over 200,000 courts would be needed by 2030 to fulfill demand. That’s crazy.

Re-purposing base on court demand

In thousands of communities Pickleball players have figured ways to use or convert existing *tennis courts, basketball courts, YMCA gymnasiums, parking lots, and  Cul d Sacs so they can play.   In Rhode Island there are courts on the reclaimed tarmac of a retired navy airstrip. It’s a land grab!  In Colorado private plane owners have moved their planes outside so they can play pickleball in the empty hangar. In Mexico, ‘snowbird’ winter visitors have re-purposed town basketball courts. This is where most of today’s 30,000 courts are….dedicated court are coming

Pickleball court demand create issues

Yes you can play pickleball on a converted tennis court, this guerilla style re-purposing has been great….it is often low or no cost, and has contributed greatly to the growth of the sport.  This will continue to be an important and unique part of the growing pickleball phenomenon, but unfortunately, in many places it simply isn’t enough.  There are several issues with the current supply of re-purposed pickleball courts. Overcrowding and long wait times for example.

  1. Demand exceeding supply, courts getting too crowded
  2. Tensions with other users (tennis players, basketball leagues, etc)
  3. Quality of facilities can be mixed

Dedicated courts are being built like crazy to fulfill demand.  Some projects are driven solely by pickleball play, others combine pickleball with other sports or with food and beverage.  Here is list of sample projects.

*Yes you can play pickleball on a tennis court…but

there are several issues that can make it awkward

  • Tennis nets are higher so they need to be lowered or temporary nets need to be brought in
  • Lines need to be taped or painted on, and these can be confusing over existing lines
  • 2 or 3 pickleball courts can be marked out on one tennis court, but the fencing to contain balls is not highly suitable
  • Tennis player on adjacent courts can sometimes be annoyed

Pickleball Business Advisors is brothers Bill and John Pryor.  We provide a variety of consulting services based on extensive experience in fitness business development, and research into the fast growing pickleball marketplace.  To initiate a feasibility assessment for your pickleball club, or for other consulting, contact us so we can learn about your project.