By Bryan Morningstar
Pickleball has been the subject of much discussion in our beloved Village. It seems we have a love/hate relationship regarding Pickleball, much to my dismay.
Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. There are two professional Pickleball tours, almost 5 million regular players, and 36.5 million people played Pickleball from August 2021 to August 2022.
Simply put, I believe we are missing the boat when it comes to Pickleball revenue. Pickleball is one of- if not the only- amenity in our Village that actually MAKES MONEY. $30,000 last year, in fact.
What does the POA provide? Most importantly, the courts. The Pickleball Club and other Pickleball organizations like Kefi Pickleball and Pickleball Sisters fund tournaments, provide volunteers to run them, and even pay for windscreens, benches, and the canopy over the main walkway.
With over 400 members and counting, the Pickleball Club is one of the bigger clubs in the Village. Cities all around us are realizing the return on investment that Pickleball brings to their communities. Benton, Bryant, Conway, Morrilton, Hot Springs, Little Rock and many, many other cities in Arkansas alone are building large Pickleball facilities. If you Google Pickleball in Arkansas, the list is quite extensive, with new venues being built everywhere.
It seems we are at an impasse over Pickleball. The POA had concerns about the windscreen sponsorships, perhaps rightly so. Regardless of the history of these screens, some sort of compromise could not be met to keep these and somehow shield them from Property Owners’ view. The sponsorships paid for the equipment I mention above, so they were zero cost to us property owners. I get it. Big banners can be ugly, detract from the natural beauty of our Village, and be distracting. For a couple grand (at the Pickleball Club’s expense?), they could have wrapped the outside of the courts in black landscape mesh and solved this issue.
We have an opportunity to “get on the bandwagon” and really promote Pickleball in the Village. Tournaments and other events are a huge draw and moneymaking opportunities. If this were not the case, these cities would not be investing heavily in Pickleball.
I fell in love with this game. I started playing 2-1/2 years ago when I attended a beginners clinic held by Greg Allen, then president of the Pickleball Club. The camaraderie, fun, and exercise drew me in like a moth to a flame. I missed the competition of my youth and have regained that feeling playing Pickleball. There could be a win-win situation for all of us, and if all sides could come together and find that solution, Pickleball would be a solid breadwinner for our Village.
You are 100% Correct… Pickleball is on the Fastest Growing Sports in the USA …. and it doesn’t matter age. Also, equipment is far less expensive than golf. Courts are far less expensive to keep up than a golf course too. Too bad the POA doesn’t see the benefit of upgrading and add more courts.
As many of us are quite elderly with common ailments, no way could we play pickleball. Some of us need a cane now just to navigate life. Living here 23+ years we’ve grown old here and don’t really feel the need to participate in strenuous sports now.
The average age in the Village continues to trend downward. Perhaps you would’ve checked out the sport when you retired 23 years ago.
Pickleball courts are being built nationwide. Today, many would put that amenity as a must have when choosing places to live.
The Village has a broken revenue model. Inflation has taken a big bite from the increase in POA dues. I belief our 2022 POA Board of Directors allowed the tail to wag the dog when they ruled to walk away from court sponsored windscreens and turned excess revenue into an expense.
By the way. The court surface is another Nalley & Co folly. Letting the contract in 2018 to a contractor who builds parking lots & various sub contractors on the project gave us an inferior result.
I do appreciate the concerns for those in the advanced age group in HSV. One of the beautiful reasons for such huge support of the game of pickleball is that almost any age person can participate. There is even a place for wheelchair pickleball! Not that it’s for EVERYONE, but neither is tennis, golf, horseshoes, BAGO, or any other activity enjoyed without complaint in the Village.
Pickleball is here to stay, whether we accept it or not. Perhaps we should just adjust to the “noise”, just like we’ve adjusted to the sound of autos, golf balls being hit (and sometimes landing in our yards), lawnmowers, etc. If we deny the advantages of the game, we’re inviting stagnation to the rapid growth of HSV and we might just die on the vine as a premier retirement community!