FAIRHAVEN, Mass. (WPRI) – A vacant building no more. The building that once housed a roller-skating rink and mini golf center is now home to the latest sensation to sweep the nation: pickleball.

It seems that with every whack of the ball, the sport of pickleball gets a new player. The sport is sweeping the nation and growing in popularity.

Owner Adam Rogers bought the vacant building with his business partner a few years ago. They tossed around several ideas for what it could become, until the suggestions started pouring in for it to be a pickleball facility. 

“One of the members of the town said hey why don’t you open an indoor pickleball facility and we weren’t really sure what pickleball was…and it kind of got to the point where we couldn’t ignore the idea or the recommendations,” Rogers said. 

He said it’s been a busy year and a half, transforming the 22,000 square foot air-conditioned building, which is located at 4 David Drown Boulevard, off Sconticut Neck Road in Fairhaven. 

The grand opening was Saturday, August 20, but on Friday, August 19, the Fairhaven Pickleball Association was invited to check it out. Until then, the nearly 300-member club would schedule play at local parks, fields, and an indoor tennis facility in Lakeville that has the capacity to change the tennis courts into pickleball.

The club’s president, Kenneth Pottel joked, “I just warn you. You get a paddle, you start playing, you’re going to get addicted after so many times.” He said it’s such a social sport, and also one that he can play with his daughter, who is a champion tournament player with a tennis background. Pottel said he used to play tennis, but an injury, and the growing popularity of pickleball around his condo in Naples, Florida, caused him to check it out. He hasn’t turned back. 

Neither has Jeff Rose, also a member of the Fairhaven Pickleball Association. He said he moved to New Bedford and, not knowing many people in the area, was encouraged by a coworker to check out the sport. 

“I basically started just because I had nothing to do. I wasn’t living around here, something to do, and it was very exciting, and I’ve been playing ever since,” Rose said. He added that he now plays about four-to-five times a week. 

So does his friend Mark Langevin who said he plays about five times a week. Langevin said they were very impressed with the level of ability among the avid players and how this facility will provide a place in the winter to still play. 

“There are two indoor facilities in Massachusetts. This is one of them,” Pottel said. He believes the opportunities this building provides will attract players from as far away as Rhode Island to Cape Cod, especially in the winter. 

For the first week, Rogers is testing out how many walk-in people will be checking out the place and how many people want to sign up as a league or tournament. 

Interested players can schedule a time by calling Southcoast Pickleball at 774-206-6603 or through www.playerlineup.com, which is also a popular option for scheduling matches on outside courts.

If you’re new to the sport or want to improve, there’s a pro on-hand, by appointment only. Dan DeTerra said he became a certified pickleball coach during the pandemic. He said, “Unlike other sports, where you show up and you have your foursome for your tennis game or racquetball game, pickleball you show up, you sign up, you play with just different people every game, so it’s a great social game.”

Speaking of social, Rogers and his business partner have applied for a liquor license. They have a space to accommodate about 40 people. 

“We’re not looking to run a bar, we just want to let people come in, maybe on a late night, and enjoy a social beverage.”

If you’re joining an event, it’s 15 dollars for about a 2-3 hour window. Rogers said a group can also rent a court for an hour for $40 dollars up to 4 people. It’s $5 more for each additional person, up to 8 people. 

“We want to make it a welcoming place,” said Rogers.

Southcoast Pickleball is open 9AM to 9PM Monday through Saturday and 9AM to 4PM on Sundays.