TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Depending on where you look, it seems like pickleball courts have taken over Arizona. The sport has exploded in popularity over the last year, and now a company is banking on that for a new concept called PickleMall.
The first scheduled location in the country will be at Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe. “Pickleball has the ability to end this epidemic of loneliness,” PickleMall CEO West Shaw said.
When Shaw was looking for the first location to start PickleMall about five months ago, he quickly realized that setting up shop in Arizona was a no-brainer. “It’s hot in the summer, it’s chilly in the winter, it’s got a lot of wind,” he said. “There’s a lot of elements that affect pickleball play. That could be a great spot for us.”
Starting in June, the plan is to start putting in 24 state-of-the-art courts in over 100,000 square feet of Arizona Mills Mall space that was formerly home to the At Home store but has been empty for years. “Our goal is not to just be a venue for players,” Shaw said. “It’s to actually get players the vehicle to get better.”
Shaw says PickleMall is scheduled to open to the public in mid-July. Most courts will have cameras, where players can hit a button to create a social media-ready video clip of how that point played out. “There’s a camera above the court, and it watches you play,” Shaw said. “So if you want that clip, we’ll send you that clip to your phone. So you can watch your film, and learn from your film.”
Shaw knows not everyone is a fan of pickleball, especially the noise that comes with it. However, he’s quick to point out that those just passing by the area or nearby mall tenants won’t have their experience disrupted by what’s happening on the courts. “We’ll have to do sound-dampening measures to make sure other tenants aren’t bothered by the noise,” he said. “It’s pretty much solved.”
Those we spoke with outside of Arizona Mills are buying in. “I’m all for people coming back to the mall,” Gene Tyssen said. “People don’t want to come to the mall, everything can be bought online,” Anubhav Tandon added. “But definitely having something like this, it would be a good fun time.”
Shaw says it’ll cost between five to ten dollars a person per hour to play on the courts and that there will also be an unlimited membership that will range from 100 to 150 dollars a month. In addition, a PickleMall app is in the works to reserve court times.
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