Pickleball boom: Where new courts are popping up in Minnesota

Throughout the pandemic, many people picked up a new hobby. For millions, that hobby was pickleball, and the popularity of the sport isn't slowing down. 

Once considered to be a game only popular in retirement communities, pickleball grew by more than 20% over the pandemic, according to USA Pickleball

Pickleball courts now fill the top floor of Southwest Transit's East Creek Station in Chaska. 

When the pandemic first hit, "90% of our commuter market went away in one day," said SouthWest Transit's CEO Len Simich. 

Looking for a creative way to make use of the space, the company partnered with the city on the project. Now, people can play where they used to park. 

"I think the reason it really works well for all ages and all abilities is the court is a lot smaller than a tennis court," said Erin Link, Recreation Manager for the city of Chaska. 

Life Time is investing in the fast-growing sport, too.

The health club chain is expanding the sport to 120 of their clubs across the country. Five new courts will open at their Bloomington North location in 2022. 

"Pickleball was one of the most socially distanced sports because of the open air and the space," said Life Time Senior Director of Racquet Sports Ajay Pant. 

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is also considering new pickleball courts at Loring Park and Lake Nokomis. 

The sport is expanding outside the Twin Cities as well. A 27,000 square foot pickleball facility called Picklebarn is set to break ground soon in Mankato.