Westminster pickleball players will soon have three more courts on which to play America’s fastest-growing sport.
The city council unanimously approved the addition of three outdoor pickleball courts at Mission Commons Shopping Center during its Nov. 13 meeting. The courts, planned in the parking lot along Wadsworth Boulevard, will be available to reserve as part of the existing Pickleball Food Pub. They will likely open in spring 2024.
Longtime Colorado real estate developer and pickleball enthusiast Sam Brown, who owns the shopping center and opened the pub, said demand for outdoor play space is great.
“Public courts are being inundated; you can’t get on a court,” Brown said. “The result is there’s a tremendous need for outdoor courts.
“I think this would be a great benefit to the community. If you look at who offers outdoor courts, neighboring Arvada beats us. They have 24 outdoor courts at Apex. In Westminster, I’m not sure there’s more than two.”
Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. for the fifth year in a row, with about one-fifth of the adult population playing at least one game in the last year, according to the Association of Pickleball Professionals.
The Pickleball Food Pub opened in early 2022 in a space that formerly housed a Sears store. Brown, founder of Brown and Associates commercial real estate firm, has owned the shopping center for more than a decade. About five years ago, he started playing pickleball. It was love at first pop.
A former tennis player, Brown said, “I’ve never touched a tennis racquet since.”
He spent almost a million dollars renovating the former Sears site into the pickleball facility, and also founded the nonprofit American Pickleball Association, aimed at helping young people learn the sport. The pub has been so successful he plans to open a second Aurora location by year’s end.
“In 20 months, we’ve accumulated 15,000 registered players that play or have played at our facility,” he said. “But when it’s nice out, a pickleball player would prefer playing outside. So having outdoor courts is really important.”
Brown said the courts will occupy a parking area that is rarely used. He doesn’t anticipate playing after dark and believes they will get little use in the winter.
Westminster councilors had warm words for Brown and his plans for expanding pickleball.
“The number one thing I hear from residents is more pickleball,” said Councilor Obi Ezeadi. “I also tried signing up to play pickleball one time at the pub and the waitlist was so long. That’s how I know this is going to be great.”
“I appreciate you looking outside the box and trying to figure out,” Mayor Nancy McNally said “That is a huge parking lot that’s never been full.”