Jul 19, 2021 - Sports

Minneapolis' new pickleball club takes aim at sport's rising popularity

The exterior of Lucky Shots Pickleball Club, a new pickleball facility in Minneapolis.

Lucky Shots Pickleball is almost ready to open, but hold on. Photo: Nick Halter/Axios

The hottest sport in the Twin Cities is pickleball, thanks to a growing interest among young players.

State of play: Public pickleball court usage is way up in the last few years. Cities are beginning to convert tennis courts strictly for pickleball play, and suburban park departments are adding more facilities for the sport.

  • Just look at the city of Roseville, which has proposed turning tennis courts at Evergreen Park into six permanent pickleball courts. Chaska added six courts last year.
  • But the biggest sign of the sport's growing popularity is in Northeast Minneapolis, where developer Peter Remes' team is putting final touches on what he said will be the biggest pickleball facility in the Twin Cities.

Details: Remes' First & First company bought a 1940s warehouse at 3300 Fifth St. NE that it's turning into Lucky Shots Pickleball Club.

  • The facility has tons of windows — even on the ceiling — and crews have laid cushion floors and installed 12 courts. They're currently in the process of putting up pads and fences.
  • Lucky Shots will also have a food and beverage area with mezzanine seating looking over the courts. It looks like a blast, but the team wasn't ready for Nick to take pictures yet.

Wait, what's pickleball? It's a mix of tennis, ping-pong and badminton, using paddles and whiffle balls. Watch this video.

What they're saying: Remes hired Bob Lanzi as the club's general manager. He was previously the adult leagues coordinator for the city of Eden Prairie.

  • "The average age of a player in 2012 was over 70 years old," Lanzi said, while giving Nick a Lucky Shots tour in early July. "It's down to age 46 now. A lot of families that are playing, a lot of people in their 20s and 30s are playing. This past year in COVID, pickleball just exploded."

Of note: The total number of national pickleball players went from 600,000 in 2016 to 4.2 million in the past year, according to Sports & Fitness Industry Association numbers.

What's ahead: The Lucky Shots project has been delayed due to global supply chain issues, most notably with obtaining air conditioners.

  • But the goal is to open sometime in August, Remes said.

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