ANN ARBOR – Members of the community gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony for Wolverine Pickleball’s brand-new facility on Thursday.
The new sports center will feature more than 39,000 square feet of space and will feature 12 premier pickleball courts, a gear shop and a lounge area to socialize and enjoy drinks and spirits.
An outdoor area will feature six sand volleyball and beach tennis courts, a cornhole and bocce ball area, an outdoor lounge and a designated area for food trucks.
The new $7.5 million facility is being funded by private investors and Chelsea State Bank, the founders said.
Christy Howden and Leslie White launched Wolverine Pickleball in 2018 when they saw a need for a space where community members of all ages could play the sport that was gaining popularity.
“There was just such a need,” said White. “There was really only senior centers around that ran it and Christy wasn’t 50 yet, so she couldn’t even play at the senior centers. It just sort of grew, it became its own beast. We had more and more people coming to us saying: ‘Please do more.’”
White said Wolverine Pickleball is open to members and non-members alike.
“We limit our memberships because we don’t want it to be completely full just with members,” she said. “We have a long list of people waiting for memberships. We run all kinds of open play, mixers, ladders, round robins, all kinds of things.”
Wolverine Pickleball’s current space is located at 119 Jackson Industrial Dr. and features eight courts for play. White said they will likely keep that space going once the new facility opens.
“We are so jammed,” she said. “We are full from about 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. over there.”
Howden said thousands of people have played at their facility -- and it truly is all ages.
“It is a total community hub,” she said. “We have ages 10-89 that come to play. It’s all mixed. That’s what people love about it. You can have college kids playing 70-year-olds and they’re trash talking back and forth. And the 70-year-olds are beating them on the court because they can win with wisdom and those 20-year-olds are running around like crazy. It’s so much fun and everyone’s having a great time.”
Howden said the groundbreaking is a culmination of hard work and support from their players.
“It’s just thrilling feeling that the community is behind us and they’re just rooting for us to make this happen,” she said.
The new facility is slated to be finished in September and is located at 235 Metty Drive.