Get ready for some pickleball.
The Little Rock Athletic Club is about to break ground on a new indoor park for pickleball, a sport that could be compared to badminton or tennis, except with paddles, instead of raquets, and hollow plastic balls instead of the green felt ones or shuttercocks.
Its popularity has wildly increased in recent years. There are 36.5 million players in the U.S., according to the website, Pickleheads.com. The sport has grown at an average rate of 158.6% over the past three years, Pickleheads reports.
LRAC's pickleball park, located south of the club's location on Sam Peck Road in Little Rock, is expected to be completed in "early 2024," a LRAC news release said.
The facilities will include eight indoor courts, four outdoor courts, a sand volleyball court and a paved walking trail with room for games, food trucks and live entertainment, the club said.
LRAC said it is the state's only indoor facility dedicated to pickleball. The project will cost $3.2 million, Kelly Snook, LRAC communications director, told Arkansas Business.
"We haven't been more excited about a movement since aerobics came on the scene decades ago," CEO Frank Lawrence said in a news release. "Pickleball is an easy-to-learn game that's perfect for people who enjoy active fun as well as those who prefer competition, regardless of age."
Lawrence said there has been some competition between tennis and pickleball players vying for a place to play in existing fitness facilities. "It's been very amicable, as many play both [sports], but they're tired of shared lines."
"Bottom line, we need to build to enhance member experience," Lawrence said.
The pickleball park will also have observation decks, lounge areas and TVs "for a full-on game day experience every day," Lawrence said.
Courts will be available to rent. Private and group pickleball lessons will be available as well as corporate or large-group events.
"We would love to have this up and running immediately," Lawrence said in the LRAC news release. "But with this kind of investment, we want to take the time to make sure the new venue will be perfect for our members and guests."
LRAC already owns the property where the pickeball facility will be built.