One of the fastest growing sports in the world is driving expansion plans for one of the countryâ€™s largest homebuilders.
Lennar breaks ground on its newest Bella Vista development with a focus on pickleball as the foundation of the community. The development in the San Tan neighborhood will open next year and comprise 800 homes. Its central attraction â€“ pickleball.
After the success Lennar has seen with the sport in Surpriseâ€™s Heritage at Asante, the pickleball focus will be even bigger at Bella Vista. Lennar, one of Arizonaâ€™s largest homebuilders, is creating 18 individual pickleball courts and 1 large stadium court for matches in its new East Valley community.
â€œPickleball is exploding in popularity across the country and our residents are truly clamoring for courts,â€ said Alan Jones, Division President of Lennar Homes. â€œLennar has never made pickleball the centerpiece of new communities like this, but demand for this sport is simply off the charts. As Lennar always has, we continue to take a more futuristic approach to homebuilding and build our neighborhoods based on community needs and interests.â€
Lennarâ€™s Heritage at Asante in the West Valley has been a model for this new concept. Instead of building the community with tennis courts, Lennar opted for 12 lighted pickleball courts. Itâ€™s a decision that is paying off, as residents are actually moving to Heritage purely because of the burgeoning sport. Frank Marquart is one of those residents.
â€œWhen I drove through the entrance of Heritage at Asante, the pickleball courts were the first thing I saw,â€ said Marquart. â€œI knew this was the place for me!â€
Today, Marquart is president of the Heritage Pickleball Club, at 78 members strong and growing. He sees people moving to the area regularly because of the courts and knows Lennar is banking on the right strategy. Marquart now lives just 120 steps from the pickleball courts.
â€œIf you build it, they will come to your community,â€ added Marquart. â€œRight now, you simply canâ€™t have enough pickleball courts. They are busy around the clock.â€
Pickleball was invented more than half a century ago but has been flourishing in popularity in recent years. Itâ€™s a cross between badminton, ping pong and tennis, played with a paddle and a perforated plastic ball.
Pickleball participation grew by more than 21% in 2020, with 4.8 million people now playing â€” almost double the number from just five years ago, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. Enthusiasts are hoping to include it in the 2028 Olympics as a demonstration sport.
Lennar is already seeing interest in its latest pickleball community at Bella Vista. â€œEven though this neighborhood wonâ€™t be open for about a year, weâ€™ve already had potential residents come by and ask about the pickleball courts,â€ added Jones. â€œTheyâ€™ve made it clear that this is where they want to be and these courts are the top reason why.â€