Mar 13, 2023 - Real Estate

Raleigh developers are placing a big bet on pickleball

Pickleball has exploded in popularity across age ranges in the past few years. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

The pickleball revolution is coming for Raleigh in a big way.

Driving the news: Swing Paddle & Racquet, a company founded by local entrepreneurs Rob Autry and Jason DeGroff, is planning to open a $70 million tennis and pickleball entertainment complex in the Brier Creek area by 2024.

  • It will be located at 6121 Mt. Herman Road and will include more than 70 courts for pickleball, tennis, padel and other racquet sports.

State of play: The complex has been in the works for years, but more recently has gotten several big boosts.

  • Last year, influential Raleigh developer John Kane came on board as an investor.
  • And in February, Wilson Sporting Goods, one of the largest sporting goods makers, was announced as a sponsor. Wilson will run a retail space at Swing as well as a research-and-development center.
Swing Racquet + Paddle is building an ambitious complex for pickleball and tennis in Brier Creek. Photo: Swing Racquet + Paddle

Details: The complex will include: 29 tennis courts, 24 pickleball courts, 16 courts for padel (a Spanish sport that is a mixture of tennis and squash), several beach tennis courts and a ping-pong center.

  • In addition to the courts, leagues and clinics it will host, socializing will serve as a big feature of the complex. Plans include several eateries and bars for players to congregate at before or after games.

Flashback: Swing is only possible due to a public-private partnership with the city of Raleigh.

  • Swing will be built on city-owned land thanks to an agreement it signed in 2018, Stephen Bentley, the city’s director of parks, recreation and cultural resources, told Axios.
  • The city isn't putting funding toward the project but gave the company a 50-year lease on the land. Swing's rent will be $275,000 per year when the facility opens, with a 3% increase annually.

The big picture: The pandemic era has seemingly turned pickleball — a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong — into one of sport's hottest businesses.

  • Twenty-four of Swing's courts will be dedicated to pickleball and Kane cited the sport's surge in popularity as a reason for his investment.
  • By one measurement, interest in the game shot up by 275% from 2019 to 2022, Axios' Hope King recently reported. Pickleball has proven readily accessible to new players, with people across most age groups picking up the game quickly.
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