Investing in Pickleball

Written by Luke Burgess
Posted December 21, 2022

My father doesn’t want anyone to know what he does for work.

He’s not embarrassed; there’s nothing embarrassing about the job.

He doesn’t work for the government. His job doesn’t involve keeping secrets.

And there’s nothing illegal about his work. I wouldn’t be writing about it if there were.

If you asked him, he’d tell you he has a “construction job,” but that’s only half of the truth.

What he wants to keep secret is exactly what his company builds.

That’s because he knows you're probably going to ask him to build one for you, and he doesn’t want to have to tell you no.

You see, for the past 20 years or so, my father has worked for a company that builds and maintains tennis courts. 

But in the past 10 years, it's been building a different court for a different game.

I’m talking about pickleball.

Yes, my father builds pickleball courts. No, he won’t build in your backyard. You don’t want one anyway!

Pickleball is still the fastest-growing sport in America. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, there are currently 4.8 million pickleball players and more than 10,000 places to play pickleball across the United States.


And pickleball has become nearly an obsession for tens of thousands of people over here on the East Coast.

Pickleball is simply more accessible than tennis. Up to four pickleball courts can fit in the area of one tennis court, which makes them more appealing for urban or dense suburban areas with limited space. And, what seems to be the most important thing for players, pickleball is a much more social sport than tennis.

A pickleball court measures 44 feet long and 20 feet wide. It’s not very big. And everyone thinks they could fit a pickleball court in their backyard. Of course, it’s possible. The Ancient Egyptians built the pyramids without modern construction equipment. It’s absolutely within the realm of possibility to put a pickleball court in your backyard. But my father isn’t building it for you.

The simple fact is my father’s company just doesn’t do residential work. There are smaller construction companies that do residential pickleball court construction. However, my father's business only does work for local governments (to build courts at schools, parks, etc.), tennis clubs, and private communities, so he’s not going to take a job to build just one pickleball court.

Moreover, putting a pickleball court in your backyard is most likely a costly mistake.

It’s impossible to price a job without looking at the location first, but depending on where you live, it would cost you anywhere from $25,000–$50,000 to build a pickleball court.

And then it’s going to cost several thousand dollars per year for maintenance for the rest of your life.

It’s also going to decrease the value of your house. Sure, there are almost 5 million pickleball players in the country, but there are also hundreds of millions who couldn’t care less. The odds are when you go to sell your house, most potential buyers are going to see the pickleball court as a liability that’s going to cost tens of thousands of dollars to get rid of.

Here’s my father’s advice on building a pickleball court in your backyard: Take $50,000 cash and set half of the money on fire. Then call him in five years. You’ll thank him for saving you $25,000.

The best thing to do if you want to play pickleball is join a tennis club. As I already mentioned, there are more than 10,000 places to play, and it's mostly a social game anyway. A tennis club, not your backyard, is really the ideal place to play pickleball.


Behind it all is a massively growing business. Celebrities like Tom Brady, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant are among new investors in Major League Pickleball.

And, yes, there already is a Major League Pickleball.

Last week, it announced it would be doubling the number of teams in the league to 24 for the 2023 season, and it named former Goldman Sachs executive Brian Levine as its interim CEO.

According to 360 Market Updates, the global pickleball market is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 10% to $2.14 billion by 2027.

Unfortunately, there is no great way for retail investors to get good exposure to the pickleball market.

There are a handful of public sporting goods companies that make pickleball equipment and equipment for other sports, but there is no public sporting goods company that’s specific to pickleball.

There are also several VC startups looking to raise money to build pickleball facilities but nothing in the public equity market.

There's also no special material that’s required to build your typical pickleball court. They actually have various surface materials and cushion layers, but your typical outdoor pickleball court is mostly concrete, asphalt, paint, and sand. There’s also steel, plastic, and polyester in the fencing and netting, but there’s no rare resource the industry needs to support itself.

So for now, the retail market has to wait on the sidelines. However, given the explosion in pickleball’s popularity, I’d bet the market sees some kind of pickleball-specific REIT or public company as soon as next year.

Until next time,
Luke Burgess Signature
Luke Burgess

Luke’s analysis and market research reach hundreds of thousands of investors every day. Through his work with the Outsider Club and Junior Mining Trader, Luke helps investors in leveraging the future supply-demand imbalance that he believes could be key to a cyclical upswing in the hard asset markets. For more on Luke, go to his editor’s page.

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