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What’s the big dill? Plans unveiled for $30M pickleball project next to Grand Park

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — There’s a $30 million development planned next to Grand Park in Westfield for a sport many have never heard of: pickleball.

It’s the fastest growing sport in this country.

The project has both developers and devoted players dreaming big and would be the largest facility with dedicated pickleball courts in the country.

With the name, Grand National Pickleball Center, it’s apparent that the idea isn’t designed to be a local draw only but also to bring people in around the country and world.

Pickleball is a mix of tennis, badminton and pingpong, played on a court about one-third the size of a tennis court, using a ball that looks like a wiffleball.

“Really anybody from the ages of 100 to 6 can play the sport,” said Marcus Woodhouse, president of the Indy Pickleball Club. “That’s what great about it.”

Woodhouse has fallen in love.

He’s been playing for six years and now travels to about 20 tournaments a year.

“Where there’s a pickleball tournament, I’ll be there,” he said with a laugh.

But there might be a lot less travel in his future if developers in Westfield get there way.

The stakes are waving in the breeze Tuesday for the Grand National Pickleball Center planned along 191st Street, right across from the street from Grand Park.

Former city councilman Jim Ake is a consultant for the project, which is backed by private investors.

And the location across from Grand Park is no accident.

“The two complement each other. We’re adding a new sport, a new attraction,” Ake said. “It will attract a different audience.”

Plans call for 36 dedicated indoor courts and 16 outdoor courts, along with 30 tennis courts on 25 acres. Homes are planned for elsewhere as part of a multi-use development.

Ake said there’s a need for the facility.

“Yes, there’s very big demand,” Ake said.

Ake anticipates hosting a half-dozen big tournaments per year, fueled by the availability of so many indoor courts, which is no small thing considering other places in Florida and California are often weather-dependent.

“We’re just looking forward to participating in these national tournaments and bringing a lot of people and having a lot of fun,” Ake said.

“It’s a perfect scenario, especially for the pros that want to come in and fly in. It’s a perfect facility for that,” added Woodhouse.

Woodhouse believes central Indiana may not just be the home of amateur sports but also the mecca of pickleball.

“As you always say: If you build, it they will come,” Woodhouse said.

Ake said he hopes to get design plans finalized by late this summer and begin construction so that the indoor courts will be ready by the winter of 2022.

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