2023’s Best Cities for Pickleball Lovers

Photo credit: iStock

by Sav Maive

Which cities are making a racket in America’s pickleball scene?

To mark National Pickleball Day on Aug. 8 and the upcoming debut of the first-ever pickleball reality show, Lawn Love ranked 2023’s Best Cities for Pickleball Lovers.

We compared the 200 biggest U.S. cities based on three categories. We factored in access to pickleball courts and tournaments, the size of the pickleball community, and local interest in the sport, among 11 total metrics.

Paddle through our ranking below to find out where to play your best game. To learn how we ranked the cities, see our methodology.

Key insights

The gist

Pickleball is sweeping the nation as the fastest-growing sport. Leading the growth in its popularity are cities like New York (No. 1), St. Louis (No. 6), and Mesa, Arizona (No. 7), which bounce to the top of our ranking with abundant pickleball courts and clubs. Some of these cities unsurprisingly also boast the biggest pickleball communities.

Meanwhile, some smaller cities like Joliet, Illinois (No. 198), and Laredo, Texas (No. 199) step out of bounds in our ranking, landing alongside Paterson, New Jersey, in last place. Residents hoping to take up the sport in these cities will find themselves in a pickle due to a lack of pickleball courtsand clubs. All three cities earned low Popularity scores, indicating little pickleball passion.

City rankings + infographic

See how each city fared in our ranking:

Standout stats

Unmatched: The Big Apple Pickle

  • New York impressively places first — overall and in every single category. The city boasts the most pickleball facilities75, and courts279. NYC also offers the most free-to-play courts, increasing public access to the game. Otherwise, court reservation costs can add up, especially with prices like $80–$120 per hour in Central Park. 

Midwestern slam

  • St. Louis (No. 6) boasts the 2nd-highest number of pickleball facilities52, and 3rd-highest number of courts216Cincinnati (No. 10) bests St. Louis, however, in number of pickleball courts224, the 2nd-highest in our ranking. 

Committed courts 

  • Pickleball courts can be few and far between, so picklers often resort to alternate surfaces like tennis courts and hockey rinks. Mesa, Arizona (No. 7), enjoys the most dedicated courts166, designed just for pickleball. That makes it easy for Mesa to host the most pickleball tournaments, including a Major League Pickleball event.

Home state serve

  • Three Washington State cities — Seattle (No. 20), Spokane (No. 52), and Vancouver (No. 67) — place in the better half of our ranking. That’s no surprise, considering pickleball was inventedjust outside of Seattle, which boasts the 3rd-highest number of pickleball facilities.  

Paddling with pals 

  • In the world of Major League Pickleball, avid players can aspire to play on one of 12 Premier-Level teams and 12 Challenger-Level teams. Residents can easily level up by first joining a local team in Los Angeles (No. 12), which offers the most pickleball clubs listed on USA Pickleball, or Philadelphia (No. 31), boasting the most pickleball Meetup groups. 

Pukaball passes

  • Pickleball is on the rise in Honolulu (No. 42), where locals also call it “pukaball.” The Big Pineapple landed in the top 50 overall with high Popularity, decent Access, and several local groups to join.

Pickling potential

  • Boston (No. 110) claims the 15th-highest Popularity rank but fails to meet demand with low Access to courts. Nashville, Tennessee (No. 97), and Detroit (No. 107) share similarly high Popularity and low Access scores. Nashville recently celebrated its 2nd annual Pickleball Festival, and picklers are currently advocating for more courts in the city. 

Pickleball paradise

  • While its population is too small to be considered in our ranking, Naples, Florida, is a proud pickleball destination, claiming the title of “Pickleball Capital of the World.” Their county has invested over $4 million in pickleball facilities. Paradise Coast also hosts the Minto US OPEN Pickleball Championships, the largest pickleball event in the world, with nearly 34,000 attendees in 2022.

Behind the ranking

First, we determined the factors (metrics) that are most relevant to rank the Best Cities for Pickleball Lovers. We then assigned a weight to each factor based on its importance and grouped those factors into three categories: Access, Community, and Popularity. The categories, factors, and their weights are listed in the table below.

For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we then gathered data on each factor from the sources listed below the table.

Finally, we calculated scores (out of 100 points) for each city to determine its rank in each factor, each category, and overall. A city’s Overall Score is the average of its scores across all factors and categories. The highest Overall Score ranked “Best” (No. 1) and the lowest “Worst” (No. 200). Note: The “Worst” among individual factors may not be No. 200 due to ties.

Final thoughts

Pickleball remains America’s fastest-growing sport for the third consecutive year. As of 2022, there were an estimated 36.5 million pickleball players in the U.S., growing at an average rate of nearly 159% over three years.

The pickleball craze is even garnering celebrity interest. While Bill Gates has been playing the sport for over 50 years, many Hollywood A-players like Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx have caught the pickleball bug more recently. 

The sport’s popularity is likely to continue growing, too, with NBA star LeBron James purchasing a Major League Pickleball team and rapper Drake and actor Michael B. Jordan also investing in one. 

Want pickleball in your own court? Hire a local Lawn Love pro to help with cleanup so you can transform your backyard into a pickler’s dream. 

This article originally posted at: https://www.lawnlove.com/blog/best-cities-playing-pickleball-usa/

Source: Lawn Love

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