Pickleball Takes Center Stage: America’s Fastest Growing Sport Finds a Home in Malls
Shopping malls across the United States are embracing pickleball, a growing sport that mixes tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. This is because people’s tastes are changing and they need to fill empty areas.
As pickleball continues to gain popularity, malls are offering players convenient locations to engage in the sport while revitalizing their spaces to attract customers and adapt to changing trends.
Pickleball, which originated in 1965, has experienced an incredible surge during the pandemic. With its unique blend of three popular sports, the number of pickleball players has grown by an astounding 159% over three years, reaching 8.9 million players in 2022, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
But the game’s popularity has grown so quickly that public parks, leisure departments, retirement communities, and country clubs are finding it hard to handle its fans without getting in the way of other activities.
To meet this rising need, malls have become an unlikely ally for people who like to play pickleball. Malls can have enough room for pickleball courts by turning empty anchor shops like Bed Bath & Beyond, Old Navy, and Saks Off 5th into something else. This new idea is good for both the players and the shop owners.
Pickleball Courts in Malls For Players
For players, the inclusion of pickleball courts in malls offers numerous advantages. They can now enjoy their favorite sport in conveniently located and well-maintained venues, and afterward, they have the option to relax, grab a bite to eat, or engage in some retail therapy, all within the mall premises.
This integration of pickleball with the mall experience enhances the overall social and recreational aspect of the sport, fulfilling the desire for fun and interactive activities that many consumers seek after the limitations of the pandemic.
At the same time, this relationship is good for malls because it helps them update their areas and bring in new customers.
Traditional anchor shops like department stores and clothes stores are having trouble, so malls are looking for new ways to bring people in.
By having a bigger range of tenants and activities, like tennis, skydiving, virtual golf, and breweries, malls can give customers a unique and exciting experience that fits their changing tastes.
Several malls have already successfully integrated pickleball facilities. Pickleball America, for instance, plans to convert an 80,000 square-foot anchor space in Stamford, Connecticut into one of the largest indoor pickleball venues in the United States.
The Meadows at Lake Saint Louis, an outdoor mall, will transform the former Bed Bath & Beyond space into a pickleball club.
Similarly, Shore Mall in New Jersey and various malls in New Hampshire have repurposed spaces previously occupied by Burlington and Old Navy into pickleball facilities.
A new brand called Camp Pickle will open its first site in Huntsville, Alabama. It will offer pickleball, food, and drinks in a nostalgic 1940s camp setting.
The goal of this unique idea is to give players and tourists a great experience while also making pickleball a bigger part of the mall. Plans for the future include growing to cities like Atlanta, Dallas, and Minneapolis.
As the fastest-growing sport in the United States moves into malls, both the players and the mall owners profit. Pickleball fans can do what they love while enjoying the ease and services that stores offer.
At the same time, malls can give their areas new life, bring in more customers, and meet the changing needs of today’s shoppers. Pickleball in stores is the start of a new era for both the sport and the shopping business.