Pickleball Growing in Dallas

Close-up of a pickleball on a pickleball court | Image by JennLShoots, Shutterstock

Pickleball is becoming one of the country’s most popular and fastest-growing sports, and Dallas is becoming a hotbed for the game.

The sport has grown by 467% over the last five years, and there are now an estimated 36.5 million pickleball players in the United States, up from 8.9 million in 2022 and 4.8 million in 2021.

“In every single place that we track, we’re just seeing really the same thing over again,” Brandon Mackie, CEO of Pickleheads, told The Dallas Express. “More and more people trying the sport for the first time, folks setting up Facebook groups, clubs organizing everything, and more and more push on cities and governments to build more courts to satisfy demand.”

Mackie runs a website for pickleball enthusiasts with the largest online directory and most accurate database of courts, allowing anyone interested to find places to play and organize matches and tournaments in their local areas.

“We’re helping people connect with others in the area and also link up with organizers to go out to the weekly open plays, round-robin tournaments, and that kind of stuff,” Mackie said.

Texas is one of three states driving recent growth across the country, and Dallas is one of the primary drivers of that growth.

“I would have never thought that Dallas would be the ‘pickleball mecca’ it’s turning out to be,” Courtney Johnson, director of officiating for Major League Pickleball, told The Dallas Express. “It’s pretty exciting. Five, six, seven years ago, we had a handful of courts to play on. Now, there’s probably hundreds.”

Mackie explained some reasons for the growth of pickleball to The Dallas Express.

“Dallas — from every place that we track — has a wealth of facilities to play at, which is not really true in a lot of different cities, and it’s thriving in the community because of that,” he said. “It’s very convenient. [You don’t have to drive] 30 miles to go play like we see in other cities. That’s one unusual thing about Dallas is that you have that density kind of close to the downtown metro area.”

“Pickleball is best enjoyed outdoors,” Mackie added. “With the good weather, you can play outside year round … and Dallas does at least have land in a favorable climate that has allowed these courts to meet demand. Very influential people in the industry play out of Dallas.”

One of those influential people is Tom Dundon, an SMU alumnus and owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and the Pro Pickleball Association.

“He’s someone that’s really poured a lot of money into the sport to increase awareness,” Mackie explained. “So, because of that, we’re seeing a lot of tournaments in the area and just continued growth.”

The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is also home to some of the country’s largest and most popular pickleball facilities, like Oasis in Rockwall and Chicken N Pickle in Grapevine and Grand Prairie.

“Chicken N Pickle will help create explosive interest in the sport,” Mackie told The Dallas Express. “Anytime you have that kind of entertainment concept and dedicated pickleball courts, it’s very newsworthy. It draws a lot of attention there.”

In terms of participation, pickleball trails only biking and running and is expected to grow by 7.7% annually through 2028, which Mackie believes can be attributed to the simplicity of the game.

“The sport is big and almost could not be easier to learn because you can go out your first time, pick up the rules in five minutes, get a feel for it in another 10 minutes, and then within 20 minutes, you could even be winning games,” Mackie reasoned. “I just don’t know of any other sports where that’s true.”

The game also uses relatively inexpensive equipment, making it even easier to get started.

“You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on equipment. I mean, you can buy a $40 paddle on Amazon and that’s all you need to play,” Mackie said. “And that makes it really easy for people on the fence.”

“They don’t know if they’re going to like it. It’s very noncommittal and, you can get in the sport really easy, and then once you start playing, well, you’re gonna get a little obsessed. I think it is a sport for kind of all people and all generations. I think that’s why it’s grown so fast,” Mackie said.

Renee Johnson, assistant director of Dallas Parks and Recreation, has watched the sport’s growth throughout the DFW area and wants to continue to grow it for those reasons.

“It’s so much fun,” she told The Dallas Express. “The camaraderie that you experience [is fun] — just getting in groups because normally, you’re going to play with four people, so you just get into a community. … A lot of seasoned community members have the athletic ability to play. It’s great exercise.”

“We will continue to invest in pickleball year after year,” Johnson concluded. “I think this is going to be a sport that’s going to be around, and we want to make sure our community really has access to play in their neighborhoods or close to their neighborhoods so they can have this wonderful engagement with their community members.”

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  1. Pickleball Growing in Dallas – Round Up DFW - […] Dallas ExpressMay 8, 2023Uncategorized […]

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