Chandler gets state’s first indoor pickleball complex - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler gets state’s first indoor pickleball complex

June 10th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler gets state’s first indoor pickleball complex
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SANTAN SUN NEWS STAFF

Arizona’s first indoor pickleball facility – and the largest of its kind in the nation – has opened in Chandler.

The 15-court Pickleball on the northeast corner of Ray and Rural roads is open for play and tours 6 a.m.-midnight daily, offering not only an air-conditioned, wind-free playground for participants in one of America’s fastest-growing sports but also opportunities for corporate events, birthday and anniversary parties and the prospect of tournaments.

Owner and Chandler pickleballer Mike Rodriguez is beaming over the realization of a dream that began when he and some buddies were standing in a windy court outside in January 2021.

“For the serious and advanced player, the elements have to go,” said Rodrigues, who retrofitted the strip mall’s anchor – a Gold’s Gym.

“I never thought of Arizona as windy until I started playing pickleball,” he explained. “Since it is a whiffle ball, the slightest amount of breeze can carry what would have been a great cut shot and land it 2 inches out of bounds.

Playing indoors will take all the extraneous elements out so that the only thing that affects your game – is your game. And that’s what the best players want, to let their game stand on its own.”

“Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America because it’s fun,” he added. “What’s not fun is waiting for a court, playing in the heat, and having the wind affect your game. We’ve solved all those problems.”

The National Pickleball Association saw its membership increase by 650 percent between 2013 and 2019.

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association, which tracks the popularity of sports through the sale of related merchandise, estimated that from 2018 to the end of last year, the number of active pickleball players has grown from 3.1 million to 4.2 million.

That growth included a 21.3 percent increase last year over 2019 as the pandemic forced Americans to rethink social distancing and the value of socializing outdoors, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association said.

Municipalities can’t keep up with the demand for more free places to play and have spent millions of dollars over the last five years to try and feed the voracious appetite for courts.

At Pickleball Kingdom, specialized AC ducts eliminate the heat and wind of outdoor courts. The facility’s specific lighting illuminates the courts without the negative effects of the sun on the game and on players, he noted.

Pickleball Kingdom also offers a free app that allows players to reserve a court, eliminating the waiting for a court that typically eats up most of a player’s time. With so many people competing to play on the courts early in the morning or after the sun goes down, the wait times make the experience less attractive, Rodrigues said.

“We are excited that Pickleball Kingdom has opened in West Chandler,” said Mayor Hartke. “Repurposing a big-box gym into 15 indoor pickleball courts is an excellent healthy, indoor exercise option for our Chandler residents.”

Pickleball Kingdom is also launching a new initiative to introduce pickleball to everyone. Pickleball 101 is a free class for the public, regardless if they’re a member or not. It’s an introduction to the sport, overview of the rules and coaching of the basic fundamentals of the game.

“At the Kingdom, we believe that pickleball is good for you physically, socially, and spiritually,” Rodrigues said. “We want everyone in the game. The reason most people haven’t tried the sport yet is either they don’t know anyone who will teach them, they don’t have the equipment, or they don’t know where to go.

“As ambassadors of the sport, we decided to eliminate all those barriers into this great sport ,” he added, noting the class is offered most days of the week.
“Anyone can go to our website and follow the link to get registered for a class time that works for them,” he said.

“We have highly qualified coaches to teach them, we provide the paddles and balls for our students to use, and they’ll be playing on the custom-colored courts of Pickleball Kingdom,” Rodrigues said. “All they have to do is show up with tennis shoes or sneakers. I would like to personally invite everyone to sign up for one of our free classes and experience what all your friends are addicted to.”

Besides reserved court times, Pickleball Kingdom also offers locker rooms and showers, ball machines and a pro shop, leagues and lessons and a lounge area.

There also is a mezzanine viewing area and daily drop-in times are available.

Its three levels of membership range from $85 a month or $935 annually to $190 a month of $2,090 for a year, with no court or player fees.

More details are at PickleballKingdom.com