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It’s not your imagination. Pickleball courts are everywhere – NBC New York

  • Over the past seven years, the number of pickleball courts in outdoor public parks in major cities has skyrocketed 650%, according to a new report from the Trust for Public Land.
  • Courts have become big business as franchises, country clubs and gyms build and convert spaces.
  • Companies like Life Time and Invited Clubs have hundreds of courts across the country.

America’s fastest-growing sport is also rapidly growing its footprint.

Over the past seven years, the number of pickleball courts in outdoor public parks in major cities has skyrocketed 650%, according to a new report from Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting people. people with the outdoors.

In 2017, less than half of the largest U.S. cities offered formalized pickleball courts. Today, parks and recreation departments have embraced the sport, pushing for the installation of more than 3,000 courts in 100 of the country’s most populated cities.

And it’s not just local parks where the infamous pickleball “pock” can be heard. Courts have become big business as franchises, country clubs and gyms build and convert spaces.

“There’s nothing even close to that growth among major park trends,” said Will Klein, associate director of parks research at the Trust for Public Land. “When you look at playgrounds, playing fields and basketball courts, you see very modest increases. So this is off-the-charts growth.”

Louisville, Kentucky; Madison, Wisconsin; and Honolulu are home to the most courts per capita, according to the report.

Klein said pickleball has helped attract people of all ages and backgrounds to public parks.

Public access

A community that is reaping the rewards of pickleball’s rapid growth: City Pickle in New York City.

Founded in 2022 by longtime friends and tennis players Erica Desai and Mary Cannon, City Pickle operates 14 courts at Central Park’s Wollman Rink. With court access starting at just $5 an hour during off-peak times (and up to $120 during peak times), the group now hosts hundreds of events each year and has 74,000 people booking court time at through your application.

City Pickle has since expanded to other locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island City.

“We’ve found that New York City parks really understand the popularity of pickleball and also the need for more courts,” Cannon said.

However, the co-founders are watching as they see new competition emerge.

“At some point, there will be oversaturation in suburban markets,” Desai said. “We’re looking at that. It’s a concern of ours, and that’s why we’re very intentional about the locations and geography we’re looking at.”

Members only

Pickleball Kingdom, the world’s largest indoor pickleball facility, announced more than 25 new locations across the country on Tuesday.

Pickleball Kingdom first opened in 2022 and today, through franchising, has grown to over 100 clubs.

“The growth of pickleball in the United States has been extraordinary. We are excited to meet the growing demand and bring Pickleball Kingdom’s premier indoor pickleball to the masses,” said Ace Rodrigues, founder and CEO of Pickleball Kingdom.

Pickleball courts are also popping up in gyms across the country.

Life Time, a “sports country club,” currently has nearly 700 pickleball courts across its 170 locations in the United States.

On Monday, the company announced it is converting a former Bed Bath & Beyond location in Annapolis, Maryland, into a Life Time facility that will include 11 indoor pickleball courts.

The company said it hopes to reach nearly 1,000 courts in the near future after seeing a 51% growth in the number of pickleball players at its clubs last year.

Life Time Founder and CEO Andre Agassi, Bahram Akradi, Ben Johns, Collin Johns, Anna Bright and Tyson McGuffin play Pickleball at the new Life Time PENN 1 next to Madison Square Garden on May 4, 2024 in New York York.
Mike Stobe | Getty Images Sport | fake images

Life Time Founder and CEO Andre Agassi, Bahram Akradi, Ben Johns, Collin Johns, Anna Bright and Tyson McGuffin play Pickleball at the new Life Time PENN 1 next to Madison Square Garden on May 4, 2024 in New York York.

Life Time founder and CEO Bahram Akradi said pickleball has been a major growth driver for the company as of late. He estimates Life Time has invested about $60 million into adding new outdoor courts and converting traditional club basketball courts into pickleball spaces.

“If you look at our growth chart, it’s like Covid never existed,” he said, referencing the drop in gym attendance during the pandemic era.

At Invited Clubs, the largest owner and operator of private golf clubs, CEO David Pillsbury had barely heard of pickleball three years ago.

Today, the company maintains just under 500 courts, organizes tournaments and plans to continue investing in the sport.

“Pickleball is a bustling micro-community,” Pillsbury said. “We are in the business of curating and facilitating micro-communities, because they are sticky and create members we can retain. They stay in clubs, are extremely active and spend.”

Pillsbury said Invited Clubs has invested between $10 million and $12 million in the sport over the past three years.