An upcoming pickleball tournament at the United Center, home to the Chicago Bulls, may lead to a new trend in sports entertainment.
Chris Clark, an avid proponent of pickleball within the Chicago community, spearheads a new effort to get the sport in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Clark has partnered with the Chicago Bulls to bring pickleball into an NBA arena for the first time, allowing hoops fans to be a part of the fastest-growing sport in the country.
The tournament will be played on Dec. 30 before the Bulls take on the Detroit Pistons, encouraging newcomers and fans of the sport to engage in the action on the United Center court. Anyone buying a basketball game ticket can enjoy Clark’s pregame pickleball clinics at the United Center’s atrium or play in his tournament.
“Pickleball has just exploded. And so has the business,” Clark told Block Club Chicago. “We’re looking to build an empire. I’m going to try to put a paddle in everyone’s hand.”
Toss & Spin is an Organization With Grand Designs for the Sport’s Success
Clark, who was a Division I tennis player at the University of Toledo, is the founder and CEO of Toss & Spin, an organization that aims to “offer a racket sports product for anyone interested in participating while giving access to as many people as possible,” per the company’s website.
Toss & Spin has organized events throughout the country, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and south Florida. This included a rooftop tournament for Gatorade, free pop-up clinics, and fundraisers for the Alzheimer’s Association and Susan G. Komen.
The event at the United Center will feature clinics from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., with introductory pickleball classes for beginner, intermediate, and advanced players. Each clinic will feature a warm-up session led by Athletico physical therapists.
The Bulls Pickleball Tournament guarantees two games per participant, with Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles, and Mixed Doubles matchups. Participants will also receive a drawstring bag and Bulls branded pickleball.
MLP Can Learn a Thing or Two From Clark’s Idea
The event is expected to be a smashing success, garnering interest in a sport and quickly earning a unique place in the sports landscape. Could future partnerships exist between Major League Pickleball and other professional sports leagues? Only time will tell, but the Bulls Pickleball Tournament offers a glimpse into what that could look like.
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