If you’re looking for the best way to add value and interest to your commercial investment property, apartment complex, university, gym, city park, retirement community, country club, or other commercial property, we have two words for you: pickleball court!
And if those two words didn’t convince you outright, keep reading and we’ll explain to you in more detail why you NEED to build a pickleball court in 2024!
What Is Pickleball?
For the uninitiated, pickleball is like a cross between tennis and badminton played with a wiffle ball and a ping pong paddle—and if you already know what pickleball is, that oversimplification probably hurt a little bit and we’re sorry!
Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a city in Washington state that can be accessed by ferry. The story behind pickleball is about three dads who were unimpressed with their kids’ boredom at their usual summertime activities. They did as dads tend to do, and they fixed it… by inventing a whole new game for the families to play together.
Since then, pickleball has developed from its humble, handmade beginnings to a sport that’s popular throughout the United States and Canada, with its popularity now reaching to many European and Asian countries picking up the sport as well.
How Popular Is Pickleball?
It’s no question that pickleball is popular and its popularity is still rising! According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA)’s Topline Participation Report, pickleball’s popularity has increased at an unprecedented rate of 85.7% year over year and by 158.6% over three years! In 2022, with 8.9 million participants, the number of new participants in 2022 was more than the total number of participants in 2021.
Who Is Pickleball For?
Pickleball Is for All Ages
Few sports are as popular with every age as pickleball. The average age of pickleball participants is 35 and the 25-34 age group has the most participants. Tied for second place are the 18-24 year old and 65+ year old age groups. Pickleball is also easy for kids to learn and play.
Pickleball Is Gender-Neutral
Unlike many other sports, it’s common and expected to play pickleball with and against players of different genders and ages. In 2021, the gender breakdown of pickleball players was around 60% men and 40% women. Women had a 17.6% year over year growth in 2021, outpacing men at a 13% year over year growth rate.
Pickleball Across the USA
Every region in the United States had growth in pickleball participation in 2022, with the South Atlantic having the most pickleball players (1.9 million), followed by the Pacific (1.5 million) and East North Central (1.4 million). The Middle Atlantic region had the lowest court coverage with only 1 dedicated court per 1,000 participants, and the Mountain region had the highest with 4.6 dedicated courts per 1,000 participants.
Pickleball Is for Small Businesses
Where a niche exists, the market follows, and pickleball’s recent skyrocketing popularity over the past few years has been quite the boon for small businesses who were already involved with the sport or able to pivot their business to get involved. The pickleball paddle market alone was estimated at $152.8 million in 2022.
Building the equipment isn’t the only way to get your business involved in the pickleball business. Opportunities can also be found by constructing dedicated pickleball courts for casual or tournament play, and a new restaurant entertainment model is growing with pickleball-themed restaurants and combination pickleball courts with other services and amenities attached.
A top food and entertainment industry mogul, Robert Thompson, plans to open at least 10 new facilities during 2024.
Pickleball Is for Spectators and Aspiring Professionals
According to Terri Graham, the co-founder of the Minto US Open Pickleball Championships, player applications are up 30% over last year. The 2022 tournament had more than 35,000 spectators—they call the championships “the biggest pickleball party in the world,” and they’re not kidding!
Pickleball Is Easy to Learn, Affordable to Play, and Hard to Resist
Making it easy to learn was a good start. Making it more affordable to get into than other comparable sports like golf or tennis was the perfect follow up. All they should do now is make sure it’s a social activity that’s a low-pressure way to meet new people and—oh no, they’ve done it! Pickleball’s popularity is unstoppable!
Why Is Pickleball So Popular and Will It Last?
Experts are conflicted on this one! Some think the popularity is purely organic, the result of millions of people coincidentally discovering a fun new game and making sure all their friends and family know about it. This brings in new players and increases interest in the sport, but it doesn’t quite explain the outstanding growth of the past few years.
Others believe the more recent exponential growth has more to do with a sudden influx of capital from star athletes investing in professional pickleball teams and big-name sponsors signing recent pickleball sponsorship deals.
This has helped further increase the public awareness of pickleball due to the further reach of influence these entities have compared to individuals. Large investments from major athletes and sponsors are a good sign for future continued increasing popularity in the sport.
Our verdict: The more time you spend questioning pickleball, the less time you’ll have for playing pickleball! We recommend not overthinking this. Think about it: if the inventors of pickleball had overthought this, would we have pickleball today? Probably not!
Ready to Build a Pickleball Court?
If we’ve successfully explained the still-rising popularity of pickleball and why you should add a pickleball court to your commercial property, then you’re going to be curious about the next steps—and we’re here to help!
For a specialized project like building a pickleball court, you’ll want the services of an experienced contractor like McConnell & Associates. With over 50 years of experience and several award-winning pickleball courts under our belt, we are the best choice if you’re looking to build pickleball courts in the Midwest.
Every project will be handled with care and attention, from the first meeting to unveiling the newest and most popular addition to your commercial property. Contact us today if you would like to get started on your new pickleball courts!