The Pickleball Club will offer East County players an indoor option.
Like many pickleball players in the area, Brian McCarthy was getting tired of playing in brutally hot conditions on hard courts because of a lack of indoor options.
McCarthy took matters into his own hands and is building the Pickleball Club, which will feature 12 indoor courts, two outdoor courts, two drill courts, a pro shop, full locker rooms and a cafe aptly named Pickles, just south of Lakewood Ranch at 1195 Sarasota Center Blvd, Sarasota.
McCarthy said it will be a club environment that will serve an area loaded with avid pickleball players. It’s scheduled to open in March 2022.
“We're not just building indoor pickleball facilities, we're building a club,” he said.
Working on strategic planning committees and being on the board of governors with the Sarasota Yacht Club and Bird Key Yacht Club, McCarthy said he learned how clubs are put together.
"I want to focus on pickleball and make it more affordable,” he said.
Before going through with the project, McCarthy sent out a series of questionnaires to area pickleball players in an effort to gauge their concerns. Heat and humidity were the top complaints. Rain and a lack of lighted courts for nighttime play also ranked high.
"It's also the UV issue,” McCarthy said. “The senior cohort wants to get out of the sun because of skin issues. Just playing outdoors in the sun, that reflection and everything can be difficult.”
McCarthy said the club's proximity to Lakewood Ranch has attracted heavy interest from the Lakewood Ranch area. The most popular pickleball location in the area is the courts at Lakewood Ranch High School. More courts are planned for the county park planned adjacent to the Premier Sports Campus.
“The hot summers makes playing pickleball outdoors extremely challenging,” said Lakewood Ranch pickleball player Joseph McMahon. “The vision for an indoor pickleball facility is filling a need for a sport whose time has come."
The Pickleball Club will have Acrytech playing surfaces on every court, including the outdoor courts that will be covered. Dominic Catalano, the director of pickleball at The Pickleball Club, said that players will feel the cushion with just 60 pounds of pressure.
“When I go on a surface outside that's a blacktop surface, leveled off and just painted, my knees start to bark after two hours,” Catalano said. “A lot of our clients have bad joints, knee replacements, hip replacements, and if we can help that, that's just another plus for us.”
McCarthy and Catalano both said The Pickleball Club will be more than just pickleball. The pro shop will be run by Joe Capuano, who owns the Pickleball Sarasota shop just south of Fruitville Road. Pickles— named after the dog that’s the namesake of the sport — will function as a social gathering space.
“We want to do Super Bowl parties, NCAA basketball parties, watch parties for fight nights, the World Series for any kind of big Saturday afternoon football or Sunday football,” Catalano said. “Friendships are what we all got out of pickleball and that’s a camaraderie, and the kind of social atmosphere we’re trying to create.”
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