One of the fastest growing sports in the world is driving expansion plans for one of the country’s largest homebuilders. And it’s all based on the sport’s popularity in one Northwest Valley city.
Lennar is breaking ground on its’ newest Bella Vista development with a focus on pickleball as the foundation of the community. The development in the San Tan neighborhood will have 800 homes and open next year. Its’ central attraction – pickleball.
The newest development is modeled after Lennar’s Northwest Valley community Heritage at Asante. After the success Lennar has seen in this Surprise community, the pickleball focus will be even bigger at Bella Vista.
Lennar, one of Arizona’s largest homebuilders, is creating 18 individual pickleball courts and 1 large stadium court for matches in its new East Valley community.
“Pickleball is exploding in popularity all over the country and our residents are truly clamoring for courts,” said Mike Dowell, Senior Vice-President of Sales & Marketing for Lennar Homes. “Lennar has never made pickleball the centerpiece of new communities like this, but demand for this sport is simply off the charts. As Lennar always has, we continue to take a more futuristic approach to homebuilding and build our neighborhoods based on community needs and interests.”
Lennar’s Heritage at Asante in the West Valley is a model for this new concept.
Instead of building the community with tennis courts, Lennar opted for 12 lighted pickleball courts. It’s a decision that’s paying off, as residents are actually moving to Heritage purely because of the burgeoning sport.
Frank Marquart is one of those residents. “When I drove through the entrance of Heritage at Asante, the pickleball courts were the first thing I saw,” said Marquart. “I knew this was the place for me!”
Today, Marquart is president of the Heritage Pickleball Club, at 78 members strong and growing. He sees people moving to the area regularly because of the courts and knows Lennar is banking on the right strategy. Marquart now lives just 120 steps from the pickleball courts.
“If you build it, they will come to your community,” added Marquart. “Right now, you simply can’t have enough pickleball courts. They are busy around the clock.”
Pickleball was invented more than half a century ago but has been flourishing in popularity in recent years. It’s a cross between badminton, ping pong and tennis, played with a paddle and a perforated plastic ball.
Pickleball participation grew by almost 40% in the last two years — almost double the number from just five years ago, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.
Enthusiasts are hoping to include it in the 2028 Olympics as a demonstration sport.
Lennar is already seeing interest in its’ latest pickleball community at Bella Vista.
“Even though this neighborhood won’t be open for about a year, we’ve already had potential residents come by and ask about the pickleball courts,” added Dowell. “They’ve made it clear that this is where they want to be and these courts are the top reason why.”