The factors behind the spread of suburban pickleball courts

Pickleball is increasingly popular in the United States and the game has also spread through the Chicago suburbs:

Photo by Raj Tatavarthy on

Bill and Linda Graba of Hoffman Estates are widely considered to be the godparents of pickleball in the Northwest suburbs. They picked up the game after retiring to The Villages in central Florida, where they spend their winters…

Graba said he and his wife started promoting the game locally in about 2009. They helped get indoor courts at what was then known as the Prairie Stone Sports & Wellness Center in Hoffman Estates and outdoor courts at Fabbrini Park in Hoffman Estates. For the past 10 years, they’ve organized a six-county tournament that brings in about 200 participants.

Graba said public outdoor courts are popping up throughout the suburbs, including Palatine, Schaumburg, Streamwood, Hanover Park and St. Charles.

“It’s basically all over every suburb,” Graba said. “If they haven’t had them in the past, people are asking and they will have them soon.”

This seems ripe for some analysis at the community level:

  1. In what communities are pickleball courts showing up?
  2. What are some of the common processes by which pickleball courts come into existence? Who is asking for courts and who is building them? For example, are park districts primarily funding these?
  3. The space and resources for pickleball courts is coming from where? Is this about the transformation of tennis courts or are other spaces being used?

I suspect there are some patterns to who is playing, where they are playing, and how the game is spreading. As the game spreads, there could also be some change to the answers to these questions.

2 thoughts on “The factors behind the spread of suburban pickleball courts

    • Interesting public-private partnernship. From the article:
      “The uptick has demand for courts skyrocketing — especially among millennials and Gen Z — with cities across the country building new facilities and private clubs replacing tennis courts. In Charlotte, an urban pickleball and entertainment facility backed by Rally Entertainment is opening on 1.9 acres early next year. With no new major tennis facilities built in the Triangle in over 20 years, say project organizers, there’s an immediate need in the region. Some local aficionados are even calling on city officials to make Raleigh a national leader in pickleball.”

      “This is an anti-country club,” he said. “Anyone can have access, throw down a blanket and toss a frisbee. It’s about finding ways to get people to the campus, introduce them to racquet sports and let it become an important part of their lives.”


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