Racquetball Betting

Life Time’s Pickleball Bet Pays Off

As the sport reaches new heights, pickleball courts have become a boon to health clubs.

What is happening: After naming pickleball as a key growth driver for its 2021 “Athletic Country Club” strategy, upscale health club operator Life Time is now the largest operator of pickleball facilities in the country – and the participation skyrockets.

By the numbers:

  • Since October 2021, Life Time has built five permanent pickleball courts per week, including a pickleball-only social club in Minnesota.
  • It offers pickleball at 350 locations, planning for over 600 by the end of 2023.
  • Over the past nine months, monthly attendance has grown from 17,000 to 70,000+, an increase of 338%.

State of play

Pickleball’s rise has generated a lot of hype. But its sustained interest, on the part of practitioners and investors, is legitimate.

The MLP effect. The sport’s professional organization, Major League Pickleball (MLP), is expanding from 12 to 16 teams for its 2023 season. And a number of avid athletes are joining, including LeBron James, Tom Brady, Kim Clijsters and Kevin Durant.

With an official podcast, TV offering, and tournament expansion, MLP hopes to create a full-access experience that appeals to more newbie players. “Our mission [is] to reach 40 million [recreational] pickleball players by 2030,” noted MLP founder Steve Kuhn.

Complex issues. A potential obstacle, pickleball and tennis are in a turf war. While some tennis pros and purists are suing for court priority, most racquet sports enthusiasts agree: more courts are needed to support the growth of tennis (~22 million players) and pickleball (~5 million players).

Heeding the call, residential developments, upscale athletic clubs and pickleball-focused restaurants/entertainment venues are investing in the game’s continued ascension.

  • 1,000 US courts were added last year alone, eclipsing 10,000 in total.
  • 60% of pickleball projects are new installations, not conversions.

Look forward: Life Time CEO Bahram Akradi believes pickleball will be responsible for a healthier lifestyle, saying:

“One day, I believe pickleball will be the sport that gets the most people moving for fun, connection, competition and the simple love of the game.