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Pickleball translates into big business with tournaments, investments


Pickleball is played by two men. 

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Eight years ago, Mike Barnes and Rob Barnes founded a pickleball-paddle-maker. They received a lot skeptical looks.

“We mentioned the word ‘pickleball’ — people would say, ‘What is that?’ Mike Barnes stated that although no one knew much about pickleball at the time, nearly everyone knows now and is eager to play it..

It is a whimsical, nondescript name that may invoke images of retired Floridaans playing a slow-moving, leisurely game. But the paddle sport — a cross between tennis, badminton and table tennis — is now America’s fastest-growing sport and is attracting major interest and financial investments.

Rob Barnes stated, “It is so simple to learn.” Pickleball is a game that you can play with grandparents or your parents. You’ll still have fun and be able to enjoy it together. This is what we believe has contributed to the huge growth in pickleball’s popularity and its addictive nature.

Two Idahoan brothers, from Idaho, are today co-CEOs for paddle-maker Selkirk. Selkirk is one the most prominent equipment producers in the sport. Recently, they signed an agreement with a big-box retailer CostcoSell their equipment across the country

Rob Barnes said, “It’s very exciting to watch them invest in this sport.”

Pickleball boasted 4.8 million players last year in the U.S., a participation growth rate of 39.3% since 2019, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s 2022 Topline Participation Report. The fastest growth in young players was between 2020 and 2021; the participation of 6- to 17-year olds, 18- to 24-years-olds, all grew by 21%.

It’s hard not to notice the new craze. Pickleball courts are becoming a popular pastime in many tennis courts across the nation. A pickleball’s “popping” sound is created when it strikes a paddle. dividing townsNonplayers are driving them crazy. Pickleball matches are now being broadcast on major television networks, such as Fox Sports, CBS and Fox Sports. The following retailers like SketchersThey are also looking for pickleball players to represent their brands.

Pro pickleball’s financial success has been impressive and it is now attracting big-name players. Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc LasryEntrepreneurship Gary Vaynerchuk have both made investments in Major League Pickleball. Private equity also buys in: Carolina Hurricanes owner, private equity investor Tom DundonRecently purchased Pickleball Central and the Pro Pickleball Association.

Lasry speaks out about the 2021 investment he made in the sport. told Sports Business JournalI think you’re going be stunned [by]Where it will be in five years’ time.”

And then there are the players — former athletes from other sports like tennis player Andre Agassi, billionaires like Melinda GatesAnd celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneresLeonardo DiCaprio, and the KardashiansPickleball is a sport that all of us can call ourselves.

Pickleball was a great way for many to meet new people and get fresh air during the pandemic. People of all abilities and ages enjoy the sport. The club champion at my local gym is 75-year old who keeps reminding me every day how much I still need to accomplish.

SFIA statistics and USA Pickleball show that about 60% of pickleball players are male, while females are gaining entry to the sport more quickly. From 41 years in 2020, the average age of players is now 38.1.

Selkirk sponsored Tyson McGuffin (one of the most renowned pickleball players worldwide).

Source: Selkirk

The sudden rise in popularity of the product has led to an increase in sales Pickleball CentralThe United States’ largest pickleball retailer, Selkirk, reports an increase of 30%-40% in its annual sales. Selkirk, which is owned by Barnes, has the potential of selling more than one million paddles in 2023. Co-CEOs of the company stated that it has tripled its size since 2020.

Mike Barnes stated that the pandemic had been very beneficial to pickleball. The industry saw nets sell out and paddles, particularly new-entry, were quickly picked up. We’ve witnessed that growth since.

Foreign shores have also been hit by the pickleball tsunami.

Terri Graham is one of co-founders. 2022 Minto US Open Pickleball ChampionshipIn the early days of this sport, she saw an opportunity for a business. Chris Evon was her business partner and she quit Wilson Sporting Goods. They had been there about 20 years.

“I knew there was about be this massive explosion [with pickleball]She said. So we decided to just go for it.

The two of them trademarked the term “US Open Pickleball” together and began what they refer to as “the greatest pickleball tournament” in Naples (Florida). The pair helped to transform East Naples Community Park in to a 64-court pickleball Mecca.

The tournament began Friday with the competition starting Sunday. It will last almost a week. Almost 3,000 players — both amateur and pro, ranging in age from 8 to 87 — will compete for $100,000 in prize money.

An estimated 25,000 spectators will tune in to CBS Sports Network for the championship. Graham said that there are more than 40 sponsors for the tournament, which contributes over $9 million to Naples’ local economy. There is also a lot of international participation.

Graham stated, “Getting into Pickleball was one of the greatest professional moves we made in our life by far.”

Life Time is expanding its high-end fitness club network with more than 160 locations across 41 countries. They are also adding courts to get in on tournament play.

Life TimeBahram Akradi is the founder and CEO. He stated that since October, the company added 84 courts at 30 clubs. He said that Life Time Clubs saw a surge of 1,100% in players last month.

Akradi claims he pickles every day (having lost between 10 and 15 pounds). He also plans to make big investments in pickleball for his company, which he started nearly thirty years ago.

“I’m a huge fan of the sport, it brings together all the United States,” he said. He said that it is easy to understand and accessible for everyone.

The partnership between the health clubs and the Professional Pickleball AssociationTournaments can be held. Life Time welcomed more than 700 people to its Minnesota facility in February.

Akradi claims that he is just getting started.

Our goal is to provide 600-700 dedicated pickleball courts throughout the nation by next year. Life Time members can still participate in the events, even when they are traveling,” said he. He also stated that the company would invest between $50 and $75 million in additional courts to be built by the end the year.

“In my 40-plus years doing sports fitness, I’ve seen all kinds of stuff come and go — get the momentum and then lose it,” he said. “This is a sport that I do not see.” [that happening]. It is easier and more accessible. It unites people, so there is no reason why people shouldn’t be able do it.