How To Get Courts: Here’s A Great Example

Why don’t more communities have dedicated pickleball courts?
99.99% of the time, the answer is MONEY.  Trust me, if you walk into any town council meeting or parks and rec meeting and announce that you have the total amount of money needed to build some pickleball courts or better yet, a pickleball facility, you will get instant cooperation.  Roadblocks and obstacles will disappear like magic.  And soon your community will be playing pickleball.

So then the question is…where do you find the money?
THE ANSWER?
EVERYWHERE!!!

So what is the formula for getting money from everywhere to build a place to play pickleball?  Here is the perfect example and the perfect blueprint, and it is called PICTONA.

We recently visited Pictona to participate in their very first tournament.  We had the Pickleball Rocks booth there as a vendor and I was lucky enough to find someone to partner with me so I could play men’s double.  Had a great time.

But I got so much more by attending.  I saw first hand what is possible when you get private citizens, organizations, companies and civic leaders all pulling together for the good of a community.

The picture above is a recent photo.  To help you better understand how any community of any size could do this, let me take you on a tour.

In the picture, let’s begin on the left side.  That is three beautiful Bocce courts. Then right above that you see a shade structure sitting right next to a regulation size Croquet court.  Next, though it is hard to see in the picture, sits two Shuffleboard courts. All these are free, fun outdoor activities for seniors. 
Keep that in mind as we take the rest of the tour.

Who do you know that supports senior activities?

Next, look at the lower right hand corner.  That area is the Community Gardens.  It contains raised garden plots that you can rent for a season, as well as a children’s garden where kids learn how to plant and raise flowers and vegetables.  Plus there is a Hydroponic garden that supplies the fresh vegetables for the in-house restaurant and bar that is appropriately named, “The Kitchen”.   More about The Kitchen in a bit.
Who do you know that supports gardening or kids education?

Now let’s move to the center of the picture.  You will see dark green areas.  Those are shade structures scattered throughout 16 beautiful, individually fenced pickleball courts.  Each court has at least 8 feet of space on each side and 10 feet beyond the baselines.  Outdoor pickleball at its best. 
Great fun and great exercise.

Who do you know that supports healthy living and exercise?

Also in almost the exact center of the picture is a small grey shade structure.  Actually it is not small at all.  That is a big covered pavilion area with picnic tables, nice restrooms and storage building.   This is a great area to bring the family for a picnic or bring a group for a relaxing game of cards or a board game. 
Just a fun area.

Who do you know that supports family activities?

Now we’ll move to the crown jewel of Pictona.  This is the big covered area in the upper center of the photograph.

That is the home of 8 more pickleball courts, all under one roof with fences, bleachers and an amazing upstairs 180 foot long observation deck.   Take some food upstairs and enjoy the view and watch the competition.

In the picture you can’t see it because it has a slanted roof, but attached to the back side of the 8 covered court structure is the heartbeat of Pictona.  It runs all the way to the rear parking lot.   It is a building that houses “The Kitchen” in-house restaurant, which serves a variety of smoothies and healthy food items along with a fully stocked bar area. 

In addition, it houses a Table Tennis Room (yes they have a Table Tennis Club) and also hosts some fun Cornhole games, as well as locker rooms, massage room, conference rooms and the Welcome Desk, plus a fully stocked Player Shop with paddles, apparel and accessories.
Who do you know that supports healthy, fun community activities?

So I give you this tour not to tout Pictona, though it is a magnificent facility, but to show what can be done when you get multiple people and entities working together to support the community.

The ground was broken for Pictona in May 2019 with completion in July 2020. The total cost?  $6M. 
How was it raised?

It started with a $3M donation from wonderful community supporters and pickleball player’s Rainer and Julie Martens.
It included private contributions from 560 people who signed up as pickleball club members even before the construction was complete.
It included a $400K ECHO grant. (please don’t write me to find out what that is or how to apply).
It included sponsorships including:
Florida Health Care Plans ($100K for each of the next 5 years) to be the sponsor/supporter of all the Senior related activities.
Advent Health ($20K for each of the next 5 years) to be the sponsor/supporter of the 8 covered courts.

Brown & Brown Insurance ($10K each of the next 5 years) to be the sponsor/supporter of all the Youth related activities.
S.R. Perrott ($5K for each of the next 5 years) to be the sponsor/supporter of the covered recreational pavilion and “The Kitchen”.

Yes, this was a huge project and is now a wonderful community centered facility for Holly Hill Florida.

But what it really is, is the template for how to build pickleball courts or a a pickleball facility of any size in any community.

Pictona was built by people, organizations, small businesses and corporations who love to help support good worthwhile causes. That is the key.  Find those who support worthy causes and bring them together for a great community project.

Those supporters are out there in every community. It is just a matter of finding them and letting they know that building pickleball courts are a key activity that can help improve any community large or small.

So we would encourage you to change the way you think about getting pickleball courts.  Even indoor courts.

Don’t try to convince the city or town leaders, or parks departments to build courts.  We know how that goes…most of the time.

Instead, find those financial supporters first.  Sponsor and donors, private and corporate, they are your key.

Money talks and money wins the pickleball courts….every time!

Good luck and keep those new courts coming.

Rocket

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Originally Published on PickleballRocks.com

Rodney “Rocket” Grubbs is a USAPA Legacy rated 5.0 player and has been playing pickleball for over 10 years, and has medaled in many sanctioned tournaments including Gold medals in the 2017 Spanish Open, the 2018 Italian Open, The Duel in the Desert in Casa Grande, The Happy Trails Classic, The Pebble Creek Classic and numerous USAPA Regional tournaments.

Rocket is the USAPA Ambassador for Southeast Indiana, but travels the country promoting the growth of pickleball through his family’s company and world famous apparel brand, Pickleball Rocks (www.PickleballRocks.com).

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