Pickleball’s popularity is growing throughout the Bay Area
Haley Hinds reports.
SARASOTA, Fla. – The Sarasota-based Pickleball Club is building a 33,000-square-foot club with 12 indoor courts and two outdoor courts at Lakewood Ranch. This is just the beginning of her pickleball plans in Florida.
Players of all skill levels can enjoy a good game of pickleball. It’s a mixture of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Some call it “ping-pong on steroids.”
Pickleball has become the fastest growing sport in the US, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, with nearly 5 million players – and more expected – vying for space on the court.
“Three, four years ago, the median age was in the 50s,” said Dominic Catalano, general manager of the Pickleball Club. “Now it’s closer to the 40s because all these young players find it very competitive but fun at the same time.”
Over the next few years, The Pickleball Club plans to spend $180 million to build 15 private indoor clubs in Florida. The first on Sarasota Center Boulevard at Lakewood Ranch is well under way. The 33,000 square foot facility will house 12 indoor courts, two shaded outdoor courts with bocce ball and cornhole, locker rooms, showers, a concierge, a pro shop, a pickles cafe and more.
“And to top it off, we have our 1,200-square-foot mezzanine that overlooks all of the facility that we’re going to have up there for parties and sightseeing,” Catalano said.
Each club will also be outfitted with $1 million in technology to allow players to record and review lessons with coaches. You have already selected locations in Bonita Springs, Port St. Lucie and Fort Myers. You’ll also explore land in Pinellas, Hillsborough and beyond.
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“The Tampa area is such a hotbed for pickleball, and we’ve had a hard time finding land up there,” Nova Grande, director of marketing, said. “But we’re close. We’re very hopeful.”
While it is a membership club, there will be clinics and classes open to the public.
“Our goal is to create a different pickleball style, a club vibe, but a welcoming club vibe where you don’t feel that stuffiness,” Catalano said. “We want everyone to feel welcome at all times.”
The idea is to create not just a sports facility, but a social, educational, entertainment and health haven under one roof.
“It’s going to be almost like pickleball heaven,” Catalano said.
In this case, the gates and the courts will be opened around the New Year.
“It’s really about community,” Grande said. “It’s about bringing the pickleball lifestyle to life.”
If you are interested in membership, you can register now. There will be a membership cap as well as a waiting list to ensure the courts don’t get too crowded.