Aug 4, 2022 - Business

Des Moines' pickleball fever spreading throughout the Midwest

Illustration of a pickleball paddle hitting an exploding ball
Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Smash Park, West Des Moines' popular pickleball entertainment venue, is cementing its expansion plans into other Midwest states.

Driving the news: The company plans on opening its first Twin Cities location and one in Omaha in 2023 and up to three three sites in Chicago after 2024, according to FSR Magazine.

  • Smash Park franchised a location in Pella in May, but plans on keeping its other announced locations corporate-owned because, "... this is a pretty complicated concept that wasn't cheap to start," owner Monty Lockyear told FSR.

Between the lines: Since opening in West Des Moines in 2018, Smash Park's owners haven't been shy about their ambitions to go national.

  • They've had to pivot directions a few times, but still plan on growing the brand, aiming to open three to four locations annually after its two Minneapolis sites are complete.

Zoom out: Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., according to a 2022 report by Sport & Fitness Industry Association.

  • In 2021 alone, 4.8 million people said they played pickleball — a two-year growth rate of nearly 40%.
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