Getting into a year-round pickleball craze just got easier, as CityPickle’s long-awaited indoor courts in Long Island City — plus a bar, a shop and a restaurant — will open on Friday Sept. 15, The Post has learned.
CityPickle’s co-founders and long-time friends, Mary Cannon and Erica Desai, leased the permanent location — CityPickle’s first brick and mortar, no less — at The Woodworks at 9-03 44th Rd., a newly developed red-brick industrial property between Ninth and Tenth streets near Vernon Boulevard in the Queens neighborhood.
“CityPickle is hoping to remove all the weather anxiety,” Cannon said, as until now, the company’s pop-up locations have all been al fresco.
Here, pickleball will be played on four indoor courts covering 10,110 square feet on the ground floor, which has plenty of bounce room with 21-foot-high ceilings.
The restaurant will also provide food with a flare. “We are playful people,” Cannon said. “We think the food and the drink should also be fun.”
Bloody Marys, for instance, will have a signature pickle salt rim and, of course, who can resist “Picklebacks” with a CityPickle brine?
Food offerings include a Classic Cubano with piquillo pickle relish, while a Super Green Grain Bowl Salad will be served with pickle vinaigrette. “It really does make for the perfect evening out whether a bunch of friends or a double date,” said Cannon.
Along with showers and lockers, there’s also a pro shop where players can get fitted out with pickleball gear and CityPickle logo items. “We have cute and stylish items that we love and are excited about,” Desai said.
The duo is also revving up to form teams, and even host corporate gigs and birthday parties.
“We had lots of fun doing those in Wollman Rink and we think pickleball is the absolute best way to celebrate in a fun way,” Desai said. An afterschool program for younger teens is also on tap.
That’s because those aged 6 to 17 are now the second largest group of players at 21.2%, with those 18 to 34 comprising the largest bracket at 28.8%. Pickleball was long seen as a sport for Boomers but now, according to the 2023 Association of Pickleball Players, those 65-plus make up 17.6% as younger pickleball players are taking to the sport with great relish.
Pickleball has also become the fastest-growing sport in this country with roughly 36.5 million Americans playing last year. The courts are smaller than those needed for tennis, so a net can be set up in driveways — and while still a very athletic game, players need less physical strength to send the ball a shorter distance.
“Our goal is to be in cities across the country because in cities, it’s harder to find places to play,” said Desai. “We created Long Island City as a prototype and hope it will be the first of many.”
The Long Island City courts will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and will close at 11 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Court time is $120 per hour for up to eight players — which makes it a more affordable $15 each.
Members will receive a 20% discount on reservations, programming, food and beverage and all merchandise, as well as early booking access for court rentals and other programming.
CityPickle is now working with Marty Cottingham, Patrick Steffens and Alexis Odgers of Avison Young to identify new locations. “We will have multiple locations throughout the boroughs,” Cannon predicted.
Jonathan Rothstein, Kostas Alafoyiannis and Ryan Maltz of Greiner-Maltz Real Estate represented the owner/developer, Barone Management, in this 10-year deal with renewal options that had an asking rent of $42.50 per foot. Caleb Petersen and Ravi Idnani of Newmark represented CityPickle in this lease.
Meanwhile, the 14 outdoor courts at Wollman Rink will be open through mid-October.
CityPickle is also launching an indoor seven-court pop-up at Industry City in Brooklyn through mid-December with a lower price point of $80 per hour.
At Industry City, CityPickle has partnered with the Brooklyn Aces and will focus on community outreach. “We are programming for non-profits and bringing pickleball lovers together to watch tournaments on the big screen,” Cannon said.
The pact with the Brooklyn Aces came about as Cannon and Desai are also part owners of the Mayor League Pickleball team along with rapper Drake, actor Michael B. Jordan and sports legend Kevin Durant. Tom Brady is an investor in another Major League Pickleball expansion team.
“A number of formal professional tennis players are now playing in Major League Pickle,” Cannon added.
The women also opened another pop-up at Philadelphia’s City Hall earlier this month where even “Benjamin Franklin” took to the courts. City officials approached CityPickle after reading The Post’s February story about its Big Apple activations.
Since the pandemic, the Pickle Princesses have galvanized players across the boroughs by activating courts in Union Square and Hudson Yards, as well as at the buzzy TWA Hotel at JFK airport.
Chefs Bobby Flay and Marcus Samuelsson, plus members of the casts of the Broadway shows “Hamilton” and “The Cottage,” are some of the celebs who have been spotted on CityPickle courts.
Demand for pickle play is exploding here as locals fall in love with pickleball. It’s gotten so popular that players are sparring with other sport fanatics and kids for court time in city parks and on Randall’s Island.
That’s why private developers are adding indoor courts as amenities in the residential project, Life Time Sky at 605 W. 42nd St., and at office buildings including the Empire State Building and at Penn 1, where The Post first reported they will open next year.