WEST CHESTER, Ohio — A huge pickleball facility is coming to West Chester.
The Pickle Lodge announced on Wednesday that it will be opening a facility that it calls the "second-largest indoor pickleball facility in the country." It will be built in the space previously held by Court Yard Sportsplex on Kingsgate Way off of the Tylersville Road Exit.
The facility will feature 17 indoor courts, five outdoor courts, a bar, restaurant and event space. It's expected to open its first phase of use in early 2023.
This phase will be the indoor courts, which Pickle Lodge co-owner Mitch Dunn said meets a need in the area.
"There are about 215 days a year where due to weather in Cincinnati it's very difficult to play pickleball outdoors," he said.
Later phases will add grandstand-style seating, outdoor courts and the bar and restaurant.
“The Lodge has been designed to satisfy everybody from the high-level player to the company event planner to those just learning the game,” said Joe Frank, co-owner of The Pickle Lodge, in a press release.
The Pickle Lodge will host beginners and experts alike, able to host national tournaments while at the same time providing lessons, space for open play, large events and reserved courts, its press release stated.
“The programming and scale of The Pickle Lodge are what will make it stand out,” said Dunn, the other co-owner of The Pickle Lodge. “Everything we are doing is with the player’s needs front and center.”
Dunn is also the President and co-founder of the 1,500-member Cincinnati Pickleball Club.
“We are bringing something to Cincinnati that does not exist. The highest level of play on fully dedicated courts paired with an entertainment experience that will give players the space to gather, relax, and have a bite and a drink after playing,” said Frank.
Frank also co-owns the Fowling Warehouse in Pleasant Ridge.
The Pickle Lodge said it has a 5-year lease with the option to purchase the property at the end of that lease.
The press release said the Lodge will be open to the public and also offer memberships that will include discounts.
The Pickle Lodge is still seeking investors to finalize its build-out, and it does not yet have a restaurant partner to operate inside the facility.
Pickleball has been one of the fastest-growing sports in America at the amateur and professional levels. It is a sport that all ages can play due to its small court size and simple equipment.
"It was described to me as ping pong on steroids," said Cincinnati Pickleball Club Ambassador Loretta Gaines.
It is played on a smaller-sized tennis court with a lightweight ball that is slightly heavier than a whiffle ball and small, flat paddles.
The game is played similarly to tennis, where there is a server and a receiver, followed by volleys over the net, but there are nuances to the rules. Players need to let the first serve and return bounce before striking it in the air, and players may not start their approach to the ball inside the lines closest to the net called the "kitchen."