Goodbye, Old Navy, and hello…pickleball court? As malls struggle to find tenants now that big chains like Bed Bath & Beyond, Old Navy, and Saks Off 5th are moving out, shopping centers are having to think outside the box. That’s where pickleball courts come in. The game, which is described as a mix of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, has grown to almost 9 million U.S. players in the last three years and those people need somewhere to play. That’s why the pickleball courts are popping up at rec centers, hotels, and yes…malls.
Pickleball America in Stamford, Connecticut is taking over a newly vacated two-story Off 5th department store this summer, while The Meadows Mall near St. Louis is filling a former Bed Bath & Beyond with courts and a New Jersey Burlington store is getting bumped for a pickleball club. And if that’s not enough, a new chain called Camp Pickle is putting down stakes in Huntsville, Alabama, Atlanta, Dallas, and Minneapolis.