‘People are just loving it’: New indoor pickleball facility gives America’s fastest growing sport a new home in Madison

MADISON, Wis. — With a new indoor pickleball facility set to have its grand opening in Madison on Monday, new and old players alike are excited to experience America’s fastest-growing sport.

One of those players is Patrick Riha. He owns Beef Butter Barbeque and developed a love for the sport recently last summer.

“I got really into pickleball,” said Riha. “I got hooked the first day just like everyone else does.”

FROM MADISON MAGAZINE: New indoor pickleball facility grand opening is Aug. 1

He said he noticed an empty building across the street from his business and decided to turn it into a place where he could bring his paddle, along with other players.

“This was an empty space for 20 years,” said Riha. “I used to store restaurant equipment up here. Last summer I got really into Pickleball.”

Riha is not alone in expanding the love of pickleball across the country.

With 4.8 million people now playing — almost double the number from just five years ago, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association — some of the sport’s devotees are capitalizing on pickleball’s spike in popularity. It’s regarded as America’s fastest-growing sport with these numbers.

“Pickleball has been around since around 1960. It started with the older generation, and all of a sudden the younger generation has started playing this sport, and it’s exploded,” said Wendy Mattie. She’s the manager at Paddle Pro Courts. 

“It’s taken off,” said Mattie. “The youngers are playing with the older people and just loving it.”

Mattie and Riha say the best part about playing the sport is how easy it is to learn and how accessible it is to play.

“I’ve had double knee surgery,” said Mattie. “90-year-olds are on the court. It’s just an awesome sport.”

“The only confusing part is the rules,” said Riha. “And once you got that, you can only go up from there.”

Riha said a big reason for opening an indoor facility was to accommodate the cold winters in Madison, making sure people can play the sport he loves all year long.

“When it’s rainy, or windy, or cold, they had nowhere to go,” said Mattie, “but they do now, right here at Pickle Pro Courts.”

More information on the indoor court and opportunities at Pickle Pro Courts are available on its website.