New pickleball place opens in Overland Park, named most pickleball-obsessed city in the nation

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 10:34 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KCTV) - One Johnson County city is at the top of a national list for sports.

We’re not talking about professional sports but the tennis-ping-pong mash-up played with plastic balls and wooden paddles that is taking the nation by storm.

A sports betting website surveyed 1,000 Americans and analyzed Google searches this year…to declare Overland Park the most pickleball-obsessed city in the nation.

Offers.Bet, a US sports betting aggregator, surveyed 1,000 Americans and analyzed hundreds of Google searches to determine the most pickleball-obsessed cities in the nation. Overland Park topped their list.

The concept of mixing the paddle sport with food and drink began in Kansas City with Chicken N Pickle.

Now, there’s a second company in town looking to seize on the growing demand.

SERV opened their first sprawling pickleball palace less than two months ago.

KCTV5 caught up with players on both ends of the age and experience spectrum.

Norma Cosgrove is over 60 and retired. She discovered the sport at Matt Ross Community Center.

“I was walking the track there one day and saw them downstairs playing and I was like, ‘Man, that looks like fun,’” Cosgrove recalled.

She’s been playing for two years. Her teammate, Mary Tangari, has been playing half as long.

“It is addictive, and I love it. People are so nice and so kind even if you’re not great,” Tangari said.

These days, you’ll also find 20-somethings on the court.

“We came here so could get dinner after too,” said Jimmy Healy, “because they have the food and drinks, and we can get a beer while we play.”

SERV has an indoor drinking and dining area and an outdoor area that resembles the Iron District in North Kansas City, with multiple food concepts in shipping containers. The resemblance is intentional. Rachel Kennedy, who designed the Iron District, is the director of operations at SERV.

“I think there’s still a desperate need for even more courts here in Overland Park, just because of the super high demand for the sport,” said Connor Basnight, one of the coaches at SERV. “You don’t even have to play the right way to have fun. And so, you know, anybody can play it from a five-year-old to a 95-year-old.”

He first picked up a pickleball paddle eight years ago when he was only 18.

“I was probably the youngest person by 25 years back in the day to be playing in the Kansas City area,” he joked. “I used to be a barista, and an older gentleman at the coffee shop played at the Rec Center. And he was like, ‘You’ve got to come try pickleball,’ so I started out getting getting my butt kicked by by those same 60 or 70 year-olds we were just talking about.”

Offers.Bet reported nearly 1 in 6 of those surveyed currently play pickleball, and 1 in 3 non-pickleball players are planning to try it out in 2023.

Cosgrove had a message for those who haven’t.

“I think you should try it,” she said, “and you will probably become addicted to it and get to make a lot of new friends, because I’ve made a lot of new friends.”

Meanwhile, Chicken N Pickle, which began in North Kansas City, has expanded to four states. They now have spots in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas with another opening this spring in Arizona. Indiana and Nevada locations are slated to open in 2024. They also now have multiple metro-area locations, including Overland Park.