Pickleball courts of all types and surfaces are sprouting up throughout the United States. From converted tennis courts to gymnasiums, cities are scrambling to keep up with demand.
Instead of searching for a public venue that may have long lines or waiting lists, more people are turning to another option: having a court installed at home. Many sports court installers are getting requests to either build a court in someone’s backyard or provide the materials for homeowners to do it themselves.
During his 36 years in the court construction business, Craig Jones is no stranger to pickleball courts. Even in his early days, long before the sport began exploding in popularity, the owner of Sport Court Minnesota would get the occasional request for a pickleball-specific court. Since 2019, Jones says, most of his calls are for court spaces big enough for pickleball.
“We did a ton of 25×25 basketball courts so (a kid) had a place to go shoot some hoops. Then all of a sudden, people started wanting to get bigger and bigger because of pickleball.”Craig Jones, Owner of Sport Court Minnesota
Sport Court prides itself in using the best surface materials and technology to ensure safety, optimal performance, and comfort. Whether indoor or outdoor, the surfaces are made to absorb heavy foot traffic.
Jones estimates his company will exceed over 100 residential courts by the end of 2023. Since Minnesota is prone to frigid weather six months out of the year, the time he and other builders have to construct outdoor courts is limited.
This allows Jones to keep up with demand since people are forced to look for indoor options during the cold-weather months if they don’t have the means to have their own indoor court.
“Unless the weather gets ridiculous, we typically get everything done,” Jones explained. “If we had to push the envelope, we can heat the concrete, put blankets on top of the concrete. If we can’t build your court this year, get on our schedule for next year.”
At FlexCourt, a company based outside Chicago, general manager John Damby has also seen an increase in multisport court size as well as those geared specifically toward pickleball. Since coming to the company a year ago, Damby estimates three out of every five calls he receives is for a pickleball court. Demand has been so high that the facility has expanded from 30,000 square feet to 60,000.
“It’s a wonderful problem to have. We’re in the process of buying more machines, more tooling, hiring more people. Everything you would suspect is what we’re doing right now because of the pickleball demand.”John Damby, General Manager of FlexCourt
FlexCourt recently introduced EliteStep™, a tile specifically made for pickleball. Billed as the largest, most joint-forgiving tile on the market, this specially designed texture offers enhanced traction, playability, and reduced stress on joints.
“It has dramatically changed the landscape of what we do for (multisport) courts and courts in general,” Damby explained.
Jones has seen a steady decrease in demand for sport-specific courts like tennis in favor of a multisport or pickleball-friendly option. One advantage of this, he says, is allowing versatility for a number of sports, not just pickleball.
“That’s what we pitch,” Jones said. “You can flood it in the wintertime and ice skate on it. You can play pickleball and basketball on it. You can have that net adjustable so it can go up to badminton or volleyball height. You can do a lot of different activities on it. That’s still the mainstay of our business.”
Some homeowners prefer the DIY route. FlexCourt provides support for those who wish to construct their own courts through videos and tutorials. For people seeking guidance in designing a specific court, Sport Court offers interactive court-building technology that allows customers to choose everything from dimensions to colors and accessories.
Will demand for residential pickleball courts slow down anytime soon? Not likely, Damby says, pointing to analysis predicting bigger growth in the next 5 to 7 years.
The projections don’t concern him; after all, it’s good for business.
“We’re preparing for it,” he said. “It’s good for everybody, in my opinion. The more we get people outside exercising and having fun, the better.”
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