Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports nationwide according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association and it's hitting Burlington.

The Burlington City Council responded to trends with construction for a new 17-court complex at City Park with a shaded Championship court and ADA compliant courts, as well as six permanent pickleball courts at Fairchild Park. 

Since its creation in 1965, pickleball has hit a recent rise in participation over the last few years. Pickleball has gained media attention nationwide and had a membership increase of 15% over 2023 with the target age range being between 18 and 34 years old according to USA Pickleball. The sports popularity has made its way to Elon, where a club team formed in the fall of 2023 that now has nearly 150 members. 

Hanna Stuart, a freshman on the Elon, joined the Elon pickleball club this fall after discovering her joy for playing competitively against her friends. 

“I’ve been playing pickleball for about a year now, and I really enjoy the competitive and social aspects of it,” said Stuart. “Playing on the club team at Elon is nice because I meet new people who want to have fun but also want to compete to win like me.”

Tony Laws, director of Recreation & Parks for Burlington, said that the primary reason for building these courts is to accommodate locals. In addition, Laws said the complex in City Park is a prime location for tournament play. 

With tournaments bringing in outside competitors, the surrounding community will benefit economically, said Rachel Kelly, the assistant city manager. People aren’t just here to play and leave, they also have the opportunity to shop, eat and sometimes stay the night, said Kelly.

“I think this is going to be one of the nicest pickleball courts in the region,” Kelly said. “It's going to be a place with a lot of pickleball players, so a lot of energy and folks to interact with.”

While the courts are the main attraction, the hope is that the community members will venture out and see the wide variety of attractions. City and Fairchild Park have an aquatics center, splash park, amusement park, amphitheater, playground, fitness center and various fields to offer. 

There will be many opportunities available to get people on the courts. 

“We’re going to do a lot of local play first then offer leagues, instruction and clinics” Laws said. “For Elon students we have leagues they could join. The Elon club team could have their own league and we could accommodate that too.”

Elon’s campus only has two indoor courts available for play. The new courts would offer a place for players to play outside with others in the community who share this interest. 

“I would love to play on the courts,” Stuart said. “I like playing outside with the sun and the wind, it adds to the unpredictability of the game.”

With construction underway, the city hopes to have the facilities open in the fall.