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Newest Trend in Amenities: Pickleball

Are pickleball courts replacing apartment tennis courts? What about the modern office’s ping pong tables of yesteryear?

Don’t get us wrong, we still adore the office ping pong table, and we don’t plan on getting rid of ours any time soon. However, along with cornhole boards, they have become a ubiquitous part of amenity offerings. Office landlords across the nation are looking to add new and exciting amenities to draw employees back to the office. With outdoor space being the No. 1 requested office tenant amenity, pickleball courts have become a widespread discussion for those looking to create a culture and sense of community.

The nation’s fastest-growing sport is also gaining the attention of apartment developers. The National Multifamily Housing Council’s 2022 Renter Preferences survey showed that 22% of respondents would like to see a pickleball court at their apartment facility and would pay $37.38 more per month if their rental property had access to one.

A court averages about 880 square feet, so more pickleball courts can be included in the same footprint as a tennis court. Like tennis courts, basic pickleball courts comprise a concrete slab, surfacing, netting, and fencing, making them a relatively low investment. It might not be the deciding factor on a lease, but it could leave a lasting and favorable impression on a tenant prospect that is touring multiple buildings.

A tennis court can be shared as a pickleball court with added lines, but players of both sports prefer courts without dual lines. Since only two to four players can occupy a court, private developers have been slow to adopt stand-alone pickleball facilities due to low profitability per square foot. Private investors are looking at different concepts to attract broader audiences and solve the profitability dilemma. It’s hard to know what will ultimately take off, but ideas range from entertainment facilities with other leisure sports, like corn hole, to health and fitness clubs.

Entertainment facilities that include pickleball are not likely to appeal to dedicated pickleball players. Hence, companies like Rally, which is opening in Charlotte, NC, later this year, hope to challenge the belief that pickleball alone cannot anchor a business. Rally hopes to be the preferred location and social hub for activity seekers and serious pickleball players. The facility will include a restaurant and rooftop bar, but pickleball will be the focus and main attraction.

As for the Piedmont Triad, pickleball is quickly gaining popularity like the rest of the country. Growing municipal interest has led to the addition of courts to the downtown Winston-Salem park neighboring Crystal Towers and the approval of dedicated funds to add nine dedicated courts to Joanie Moser Park in the Fall of 2022.