Trends in Pickleball Facility Design and Construction

Trends in Pickleball Facility Construction and Design

The fastest growing sport in the United States for the past three years – the product of a tennis, badminton, and table tennis mashup – pickleball has become a globally popular recreational activity due to its easy-to-learn rules, low cost, and age and ability inclusivity. From the professional level to first-timers attending a birthday party or company outing, millions of Americans are bidding for the same sought-after commodity: court time. A study conducted by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) found that the U.S. will need 25,000 additional pickleball courts, a 900-million-dollar investment, to keep up with the current demand.

With over a dozen indoor pickleball companies popping up nationwide, design flexibility is now at the forefront of pickleball construction. Current facilities fuse the entertainment and athletic industries by emulating community recreation centers, racquet clubs, city parks, and county clubs. A variety of approaches allow for diverse pickleball playing experiences. They also differ in additional amenities offered, such as full-service dining and drink menus, snack bars, stadium seating, arcade games, and additional luxury services.

Any major market can accommodate growth in the pickleball industry because the playing experience is enhanced by an indoor environment, meaning construction is not limited to extreme climate zones.

The industry is seeing repurposing of industrial and commercial assets.

Pickleball owners have chosen various paths to bring their businesses to fruition, including custom renovations of readily available vacant spaces such as commercial and industrial properties.  The founder of Major League Pickleball, Steve Kuhn, has coined the concept “Pickle mall” and plans to open facilities in vacant malls across the U.S. Not every unused industrial and commercial space can be transformed. Existing sites need to have a column spacing greater than 26 feet to accommodate standardized court specifications, as well as ensure features such as parking, zoning, ceiling height, number of bathrooms, plumbing, and overall square feet are aligned with the desired finished facility capacity.

Operators have found untraditional spaces to renovate, including a rollerblading rink, a Macy’s department store that was abandoned for over a decade, and a trampoline park. Renovations are also a more sustainable option for companies looking to reduce their environmental impact.

New construction is better suited for facilities with custom attributes.

In markets with less vacant space, the competitive pricing on unused industrial and commercial facilities can be more expensive than a ground-up build. In addition to cost-savings, custom facilities allow companies to incorporate design aspects unique to their brand, including color, windows, and indoor/outdoor space integration. Both new and renovated facilities are using insulated metal panels for the exterior construction due to their controlled temperature capabilities.

Accounting for court configurations

Since court space is already in high demand, designers are opting for layouts that accommodate multiple courts in close proximity. This allows for a more efficient use of space and facilitates organized tournaments and events. Multi-court setups also promote a sense of community among players, fostering social interaction and camaraderie. In the initial design stages, it’s important to determine if the facility will be used exclusively for pickleball or if the courts need to be sized to accommodate tennis gameplay as well. Since the sports use different court dimensions, a hybrid facility will impact the number of courts they are able to offer.

Versatile surfaces allow for optimal performance.

Indoor pickleball court surfaces try to mimic outdoor court surfaces as closely as possible, so players can achieve a similar experience. There’s a growing trend for facilities to begin with an asphalt or concrete slab base and install gel-like soft surfaces on top of the flooring. These surfaces can include 100 percent acrylic coatings, Laykhold Master’s Gel, Plexipave, Pro-Cushion, layers of paint, and tennis court surfaces. These high-quality surfaces featured on professional outdoor courts are a long-term investment since indoor courts do not face the cost of resurfacing from weather damage.

Noise reduction

Large, ambient steel and concrete spaces can get very loud when multiple games are played simultaneously if operators do not include features to resolve sound issues. These modifications can include carpeting in social spaces, mesh or plastic fencing around court spaces, padding steel columns, sound absorption panels, and furniture selection.

Lighting solutions

Proper lighting is essential for pickleball facilities to ensure optimal visibility and minimize glare. LED lighting has become the go-to choice due to its energy efficiency and superior brightness.

Designing an accessible space

As pickleball continues to attract players of all ages and abilities, there’s a growing emphasis on incorporating accessibility features into facility designs. This includes wheelchair-friendly court layouts, designated seating areas, and amenities such as accessible restrooms and parking spaces. By prioritizing inclusivity, pickleball facilities can cater to a broader demographic and create a welcoming environment for all players.

Additional community spaces can increase revenue and entertainment factor.

Operators are creating spaces that provide players with a memorable experience beyond a place to play the sport; they serve as hubs for social and community interaction. To enhance overall user experience, designers are incorporating amenities such as seating areas, outdoor gathering areas, restaurants, bars, event spaces, and concert stages. These areas encourage players and spectators to linger, socialize, and be more likely to keep coming back.


Gary Johnson

Director of Business Development


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