Property developers look to padel to reinvigorate destinations and build communities

21st September 2023 |

Property crazes come and go, but padel, a new racket sport, looks set to stay, as developers, landlords and agents look to incorporate it at their sites, to help build communities and attract footfall. 

Touted as the world’s fastest growing sport, padel was invented in Mexico in the 1970s. Fast forward to now and over 25 million people around the world play the game regularly. In Argentina there are more padel players than footballers. In the Middle East the sport is on the national curriculum. In Europe, 15,000 new courts were registered in 2021. By 2032, it is expected to become an Olympic sport. 

Celebrity fans of the game include Andy Murray and Virgil van Dijk, who have both invested in British company, Game4Padel, as well as David Beckham, Pep Guardiola, Elle MacPherson and Nicole Scherzinger.

What makes padel so appealing is its relatively simple rules, the ease with which it can be learned and mastered, and, the big draw, the fact it is highly social. Played in doubles pairs, on a small court, there is always lots of laughter, banter and friendly rivalry between players.

It’s this that is convincing property developers and landlords to introduce it to their sites.

Game4Padel, the UK’s leading padel operator, opened three new sites in London during August. What makes this interesting is that one venue was opened in a business park (Bloom Heathrow), one on a meanwhile development site (The Padel Yard, Wandsworth) and one was opened at a leisure centre (Crystal Palace National Sports Centre). The company was also responsible for a pop-up padel court in Westfield London shopping centre in 2022 and has submitted planning for three permanent courts at the retail destination.

Game4Padel CEO, Michael Gradon, said: “Padel has this amazing ability to hook people in – once you’ve played it you want to play again, and tell your friends about it. Lots of people try it out for the first time on holiday in places like Spain where it is everywhere, and then, when they come home, they can’t find any local courts. We are building them as fast as we can, but it’s hard to keep up with demand.

We’ve had enquiries from hotels, schools and universities, shopping centres, business parks, sports clubs, local authorities and property developers, who all want to add padel facilities to their sites. The sport requires a relatively small amount of space, but when courts are well managed, they can be full all day long, bringing a diverse range of people to a destination. The social element of the sport also means people spend time at a site once they’ve played their match, hanging out with friends, eating and drinking, and building a network of likeminded contacts. Post-Covid, this has huge appeal for many landowners and developers”.

Game4Padel provides a full service padel solution from feasibility to planning consent, construction, funding, management, booking systems, playing programmes, coaching support and ongoing maintenance of the facility. Game4Padel bears all the capital costs and lifetime maintenance in return for a share of revenue.

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