Prominent health club organization Life Time is seemingly on a conquest to take over the pickleball facility world and, by year-end, aims to oversee up to 700 pickleball clubs!
Inaugural Purpose-Built Facility
In close proximity to its headquarters in Chanhassen, Minnesota, leading fitness entity Life Time is in the process of erecting its inaugural purpose-built pickleball facility in the United States.
It is important to note that this isn’t Life Time’s first dedicated pickleball facility; that distinction belongs to the company’s exclusive pickleball club in Bloomington, which commenced operations in early 2022.
Nonetheless, company executives emphasized that the Chanhassen facility was the first built from scratch, whereas the Bloomington one was their refurbished Bloomington North fitness center.
Welcoming Pickleball Enthusiasts
Collectively, Life Time manages over 60 established pickleball courts across 12 of its Minnesota establishments and nearly 600 throughout the nation.
The Chanhassen pickleball club will encompass eight indoor and seven outdoor courts, complemented by a viewing area, bar, and lounge.
Life Time executives highlighted that the planning and construction of the 25,000-square-foot facility had progressed swiftly due to its location on a pre-owned parking lot of the company. The objective is to welcome pickleball enthusiasts within the next four to five months.
Life Time’s founder, chairman, and CEO, Bahram Akradi, pointed out that establishing a pickleball club in Chanhassen was an obvious decision. In a city that also serves as Life Time’s headquarters, the company was already well-versed in local regulations and possessed surplus land.
The Chanhassen club is poised to serve as a model for forthcoming pickleball facilities under Life Time’s purview. Akradi indicated that the company intends to take valuable insights from this endeavor to expedite the development of new facilities in a more streamlined and efficient manner.
“The objective and the goal is for when people think pickleball, the first thing they should think about is Life Time,” Akradi told Tina Nguyen at tcbmag.com. “Every week, we are looking at other opportunities for Life Time to expand our pickleball footprint in existing facilities, existing land, and new. It’s a combination of both grabbing new opportunities and converting existing projects.”
He also said that Life Time intends to repurpose approximately $500 million worth of current assets, such as surplus land or former basketball courts, into pickleball facilities. This is a “fast-track” initiative in certain instances since a significant portion of the infrastructure is already in place.
As an illustration, Life Time intends to incorporate an additional four to eight courts at its St. Louis Park site.
Avid Pickleball Fans
Chanhassen mayor Elise Ryan is also positive about Life Time’s relationship with the city: “We have always been proud to have the [Life Time] headquarters here in Chanhassen. They have the land, and they know they have avid pickleball fans. Having a place dedicated to pickleball will bring a lot of our community together.”
Life Time has been busy forging collaborations with Major League Pickleball (MLP) and the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) but has introduced its own competition series, The Pickleball Classic.
The Classic will run alongside additional events, instructional programs, leagues, and play opportunities. The company also says it will take the lead in introducing fresh programming tailored for juniors this autumn.
As Akraid says, “Nobody has Life Time’s scale in sports and athletics in order to have been making this move. We were the only one uniquely positioned to do it.”
Maintaining Its Relevance
In common with its rivals in the fitness industry, Life Time has faced challenges in maintaining its relevance in a world transformed by the Covid pandemic.
In 2022, the company disclosed a net loss of $1.7 million, following a net loss of $580 million in 2021. However, Life Time has shown progress this year, registering profits of $27.5 million and $17 million in the first two quarters of 2023.
With such substantial investments in pickleball facilities, it is evident that the company perceives this sport as a strategic avenue to establish a position of dominance.
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