It’s a testament to the sheer pulling power of pickleball right now that a whole industry has been created catering to the needs of its players off the court as well as on.
Real estate developers and investors all over the country are hurrying to create businesses based around the sport to cash in on its current surge in popularity. And Chicago is no exception.
CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra examined three pickleball spots – one established for a year and a half, a recent opening, and one under construction.
“It’s a combination of slow, steady, patient strategy – and all of a sudden, just like that: ‘Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!’ It’s easy to learn. People that have never played a sport in their life can get out and have fun in five minutes because they’re hitting the ball back and forth.”
Rifkin is also an investor in Pickle Haus and highlighted its social aspect: “What I love most about pickleball is that it brings families together,” he says. “So what better place for families to come to?”
More Than Just A Sports Venue
We featured Pickle Haus at more length in a previous article. It is an innovative pickleball restaurant situated in Algonquin, which combines a full kitchen and bar.
Graham Palmer, co-founder, sees it as more than a sports venue: “In terms of an indoor pickle facility with a heavy food and beverage program, this is the first of its kind in Chicago. We see ourselves as a restaurant/bar that happens to have pickleball as our sport.”
The process behind Pickle Haus took a year from idea to realization and had something of a fortuitous beginning after the gym that had planned to move into the premises decided to pull out. Palmer, a real estate developer, noticed the potential of indoor pickleball and jumped at the chance to take the space himself.
The School House
On the Near North Side, The School House, operational for about a year and a half, has repurposed a school into a multifaceted hub.
Pickleball enthusiast Cathy Hofmann notes its draw: “People can go there for lunch – after or before they play – and as long as they have a bar, everyone will come.
Nico Acevedo was more succinct: “It’s different, but it’s awesome.”
Social Pickleball Fun
Elsewhere, Rich Green is crafting SPF – Social Pickleball Fun – in Lincoln Park. With nine courts and plans for a coffee shop and restaurant, Green views pickleball as universally appealing:
“You know, the reason, really, to center something around pickleball is because it’s a sport that appeals to everyone,” he says. “Whether I’m playing with my son, who’s 10, or his grandfather – my father – you know, we can all go out and have a great time.”
Quality Time For Like-Minded People
It caters to all ages, offering quality time for like-minded people across all generations.
“It was an opportunity to bring a lot of people together, and with a lot of people together,” said Green, “and if you do a lot of good things around it, yeah, there’s good business behind that.
“It was an opportunity to bring a lot of people together, and with a lot of people together,” he continues, “and if you do a lot of good things around it, yeah, there’s good business behind that.”
SPF’s courts at 2121 North Clybourn Avenue are set to open soon.
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