Pickleball’s Growth Creates Court Shortage

Swing Racquet + Paddle

Pickleball might be growing too fast.

What’s happening: Two new studies say infrastructure investments aren’t keeping pace with demand for the sport’s 8.9M players.

  • In 2022, the total number of first-time pickleball participants alone exceeded the total number of players in 2021.
  • For continued growth at the same pace, the industry requires a $900M investment to build 25K courts nationwide, per SFIA.
  • 74% of US community associations have or are building pickleball courts, with 76% of members reporting courts are in near-constant use, according to CAI.

Growing the Game

With a televised pro league, influencer buy-in, and A-list investors crowding in, pickleball’s frenetic growth is expected to continue.

But, the game can only grow as fast as its collective court space, and if recent developments are any indication, Americans can expect to see venues appearing in many different forms:

  • Franchise indoor pickleball club operator Ace Pickleball just signed a nine-state, 50-unit expansion deal.
  • Swing Racquet + Paddle will open a 45-acre facility—the largest in the world—in North Carolina with backing from racket sports manufacturer Wilson.
  • Yet-to-open recreation x restaurant concept Camp Pickle landed $200M to support growth, while Chicken N Pickle announced another $10M for national expansion.

Meanwhile, luxury gym operator Life Time unveiled its first ground-up pickleball club concept. Already putting pickleball central to its operations, since early 2022, it has constructed five indoor and outdoor pickleball courts per week, many with spectator areas and social lounges.

Punchline: Boosting recreation can help reverse Americans’ declining health. And while countless brands literally lay the groundwork to capitalize on pickleball’s hype, there’s no shame in fanning the flames if it enables widespread access and participation.

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