May 31, 2023 - Sports

Pickleball sees bounce in local popularity

Two photos of a pickleball championship: On left, players celebrate winning a point, on right, a player reaches down with a paddle to hit the pickleball.

Scenes from the Major League Pickleball tournament at Columbus' Pickle & Chill club last October. Photos: Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Buckeye football may grab the headlines and the trio of soccer, baseball and hockey dominates the Arena District.

  • But the fast-growing sport of the masses is a simple court game involving silly terminology like dink shots, flapjacks and the kitchen.

Driving the news: Columbus is developing a reputation as a Midwest pickleball haven, with high-profile tournament action and more local courts than you can shake a paddle at.

The big picture: Pickleball — a tennis-badminton-pingpong hybrid — was invented in the '60s and exploded in popularity during the pandemic.

State of play: Why all the picklehype? Consider …

🏓 Pickleball is everywhere. Columbus boasts 118 public courts, most of them overlaid on top of tennis courts. That total is among the most of any U.S. city.

👨‍🦳👦 It's for all ages and abilities. The easy learning curve and small court dimensions make the game accessible for all kinds of players.

📈 The sport is still growing. The Real Dill Pickleball Club opens this fall in Polaris and Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther pledges a "dramatic" expansion of dedicated courts over the coming years.

What we're hearing: Renters may even start seeing pickleball action at their apartment complexes, says Andrew Mazak, a partner with local real estate research firm Vogt Strategic Insight.

  • "In other parts of the country, we're seeing higher-income communities offering, along with a rooftop pool, a pickleball court or two," Mazak tells us. "I'd bet that in a year or two we're going to see them popping up in high-end communities in our area."

The bottom line: It's safe to say the pickleball craze can no longer be dismissed as a short-lived fad.

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