As the pickleball phenomenon continues to dominate St. Petersburg’s sports scene, a developer and investor are capitalizing on the opportunity by bringing the first-ever pickleball club to the city.
Investor and entrepreneur Reuben Pressman and developer Jon Daou, known for his developments in the Edge District, are teaming up to create the St. Pete Athletic Club, which will feature 16 courts and amenities – fulfilling a dire need for local pickleball enthusiasts.
The club will be built on three connected properties Daou owns bordering Martin Luther King Jr. Street and Burlington Avenue.
“For over four months, we have been planning and forming the business model,” Pressman said. “Our goal is to create a community hub for pickleball players of all ages and abilities, and to bring the sport to a wider audience through tournaments, classes and social events.”
Currently, the city has a limited inventory of courts, which are quickly booked and have restricted playing hours, leaving many athletes scouting for sites, said Pressman, the former founder and CEO of software company Presence, who will serve as the managing operator of the club.
Pressman has been dwelling on the concept for a year, eyeing several potential locations. He said the identified site is the most feasible and is near the Pinellas Trail and denser areas.
The club will include nine lighted indoor courts – which Pressman said is a first for Tampa Bay – along with a pro shop, lockers, showers, gym equipment, a covered green space, a full-service restaurant bar and areas for table tennis and paddle, a racket sport.
The development team spearheading operations at the club includes Travis Rettenmaier, one of the top pickleball players in the world and co-owner of the Florida Smash team, who will be the “resident pro” helping players improve their skills.
Jarrett Sabatini, creator and owner of Intermezzo Coffee and Cocktails in St. Petersburg, is also listed as part of the operations team.
The club will offer memberships and daily public access.
Pressman said the plan also entails building a boutique hotel to serve the visiting players.
The timeline and costs associated with the project have not been finalized, but the team expects to open the facility this year, according to the announcement.