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Pickleball anyone?

New pickleball club under construction in Lakewood Ranch looks to capitalize on craze.

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 12:00 p.m. October 7, 2021
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Courtesy. Brian McCarthy, left, and Loyd Robbins helping to bring indoor pickleball to the region.
Courtesy. Brian McCarthy, left, and Loyd Robbins helping to bring indoor pickleball to the region.
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Pickleball. It’s everywhere. There are pickleball professional associations. There’s a pickleball song. There’s a pickleball Hall of Fame. And, as of a couple of months ago, there’s even a pickleball lifestyle magazine.

And now, there’s going to be a chain of member-only clubs offering indoor pickleball courts for those who want to stay out of the Florida heat.

Construction on the first of these began Sept. 22 east of Interstate 75 and Fruitville Road in Lakewood Ranch, just outside Sarasota. The 34,000-square-foot club will include 12 indoor courts, a pro shop, café and seating area. The club expects to have 600 members, according to a statement. 

The clubs are the brainchild of Brian and Valerie McCarthy, who founded The Pickleball Club.

The Sarasota couple, according to the story on the club’s website, was sitting around one rainy afternoon, unable to play with friends, when they looked at one another. “There has to be another way, a better way. We can do this,” the site says, though it does not specify which of two made the bold pronouncement or if they said it in unison.

The couple enlisted the Sarasota commercial real estate brokerage Harry E. Robbins Associates to help find the 2.5-acre piece of land the complex is being built on. The goal, according to a release from the firm, is to open 15 clubs in Florida. “On our side, we are working away to make sure the land we find meets his requirements, and then we’ll attain those parcels for him and hopefully bring his idea to life,” Loyd Robbins says in the statement.

For the uninitiated, pickleball is a sport once described on television as a combination of tennis, racquetball and ping pong. The game is played on a court smaller than a tennis court but with a similar set up.  According to SportMaster, an Ohio-based company that specializes in sport surfaces, four standard 20′ x 44′ pickle ball courts should fit in a single tennis court.   

The size difference is what makes the game so popular with seniors who, according to The Pickleball Club, need “an active competitive sport that ha(s) lower physical demands.” The club says that over 75% of players are Baby Boomers.


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