Ten-Court Pickleball Facility to Open in Anne Arundel County
Timothy Schnupp leads investor group that includes professional players and coaches Jimmy Hall and Sonny Tannan to open The Dink of Severna Park at St. John Properties’ I-97 Business Park
BALTIMORE, MD (March 28, 2023) – After practicing pharmacy in several retail and institutional settings, Maryland entrepreneur Timothy Schnupp recently turned his attention to a rapidly-growing industry where he believes the “sky is truly the only limit” – pickleball. Together with investors Jimmy Hall and Sonny Tannan, both highly-recognized and accomplished players and coaches in the pickleball community, the group intends to operate a 10-court facility within I-97 Business Park, a 67-acre business community developed and managed by St. John Properties, Inc. in Anne Arundel County. Plans are underway for the Phase I opening of The Dink of Severna Park, within 22,917 square feet of space at 254 Najoles Road in Millersville this summer. Michael Tait of St. John Properties represented the landlord and Chase Bourdelaise and Ian Deihle of Transwestern represented the tenant in this lease transaction.
Schnupp became passionate about pickleball after a neighbor asked him to participate in his community’s local pickleball league in Shipley’s Choice, which started with six people but had quickly ballooned to 120 local residents, with a long waitlist to join. “An individual does not need to be freakishly athletic to excel at the sport because the court is relatively small and the ball travels much slower than other racquet-based games,” he said. “You don’t have to invest countless hours on the weekend like you do with other sports. It is extremely accessible and inclusive for people of all ages and experience levels, along with relatively inexpensive to get started. However, the best thing is the social aspect. I have created more genuine relationships through the pickleball community than anything else I have done over the last 10 years. You cannot be near a pickleball court without hearing constant laughter and chatter, and the sport translates well to co-ed play.” According to the Sports & Fitness Association, pickleball is “the fastest-growing sport in America with growth approaching 160 percent over the past three years.”
Schnupp began spending increasingly more time playing in the Kyle Yates Memorial Pickleball League which, three years after its founding, had grown to more than 60 teams. Schnupp then started developing the business plan for a dedicated indoor pickleball facility to provide a place to play in all seasons throughout the year. He grew increasingly confident in his plans after receiving consistent and positive feedback from the local pickleball community and thought now was the perfect time to seize the opportunity.
“Annapolis and Severna Park are pickleball hotspots, as an indoor facility serving this region still does not exist, and I was familiar with I-97 Business Park and St. John Properties because my former company leased space in the business community,” Schnupp explained. “To properly execute this concept, it is important to find space with high ceilings, adequate column widths, an open and flexible layout, ample parking, and visibility and close proximity to major highways. I-97 Business Park features each of these attributes, and is approximately 10 miles from both Annapolis and Columbia, which will make The Dink extremely accessible to a wide geographic area.”
The Dink of Severna Park is financed by a group of investors – all of whom are involved in the local pickleball community – with many jumping at the opportunity to invest in a dedicated facility.
Among those investors are Jimmy Hall and Sonny Tannan, who bring strong name recognition in the pickleball community due to their playing and coaching accomplishments. They will both play an active role in formulating and executing training and instructional sessions, along with a variety of social and competitive events.
The Dink of Severna Park, which will initially open with seven indoor courts, has been custom designed to stand apart from other facilities. Three additional outdoor courts are expected to be completed in summer 2024. “As a purpose-built, dedicated pickleball facility, it is extremely important that we create a premium setting that is true to the most accomplished player, while also offering what is most optimal for beginners. This all begins with professional-grade courts and state-of-the-art lighting that properly illuminates the entire court from both sides, minimizing blinding from direct overhead lighting. All courts will be fully fenced to eliminate gameplay interruption from rolling balls entering from adjacent courts. While four courts will be standard 30 by 60 feet, three additional courts will be larger 30 by 64 feet, allowing more space at both ends of the court for higher level play. An often-overlooked aspect and common complaint of indoor facilities is the acoustics. We are heavily investing in acoustic solutions that will mitigate sound reverberation and permit comfortable conversations and clear communication during instructional lessons.”
The Dink of Severna Park will feature seven parallel courts and plenty of natural light, as well as full service locker rooms equipped with tiled showers. The facility will also feature 6,700 square feet of combined social and event space that can be reserved for corporate events and private parties, or utilized to lounge, relax, and connect with fellow players. Upon its opening, The Dink of Severna Park will be the first of its kind in the Anne Arundel County area.
The Dink will offer private court reservations, drop-in play, leagues, tournaments, and private lessons instructed by a team of certified professionals. Several membership tiers will be offered to fit everyone’s frequency and level of play. Activities will be separated into men’s, women’s, co-ed and youth categories in different skill levels. “We intend to carefully craft our programming to ensure the availability of indoor courts and coordinated play amongst similarly skilled members, ultimately enhancing every member’s experience. Our goal is to set the standard for higher-end dedicated pickleball facilities, while preserving the social aspect of the sport, for all levels of players. More information is available at www.thedinkusa.com.
254 Najoles Road is a single-story building containing 30,240 square feet of flex/R&D space. It is equipped with 18-foot ceiling heights and dock and drive-in loading doors, and has earned LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. I-97 Business Park is situated on Benfield Boulevard and Najoles Road, and is off Exit 10 of Interstate 97 near the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
The Dink of Severna Park is the second fully-dedicated pickleball facility in the St. John Properties portfolio. Late last year, Baltimore Pickleball Club, LLC signed a lease with St. John Properties to open the first fully-dedicated indoor pickleball facility in Timonium (Baltimore County). Located within a 12,000 square foot space at Timonium Exchange, the concept is expected to open later this year.
“This new lease with the Dink demonstrates the extreme versatility and flexibility of our prototype flex/R&D product,” stated Matt Lenihan, Senior Vice President, Leasing for St. John Properties. “The convenience of this location directly off of I-97 combined with the parking, clear height and ability to provide both indoor and outdoor courts should make this the premier pickleball facility in Anne Arundel County.”
According to pickleball lore, Pickleball was invented when, in the mid-1960s, two families in Washington State were searching for a fun activity to entertain their children while on vacation. The group began gathering equipment laying around in a garage such as old ping-pong paddles and a wiffle ball and took advantage of a nearby badminton courts. Its ubiquitous name mirrors the collection of items used to invent the sport with a nod to “the pickle boat” in crew, where oarsmen were chosen from the “leftovers of other boats.”
Pickleballheads.com reports more than 36 million pickleball players in the United States currently, with the largest percentage coming from the 18 to 34-year old category. The forecasted compound annual growth rate is 7.7 percent and, currently, there are more than 10,000 pickleball courts throughout the country.
Founded in 1971, St. John Properties, Inc. is one of the nation’s largest and most successful privately held commercial real estate firms. The company is distinguished by its commitment to customer service, achievements in green building, and top-rated workplace culture. Throughout St. John Properties’ 52-year history, the company has developed more than 23 million square feet of flex/R&D, office, retail, warehouse space and has investments in over 3,000 residential units. The company proudly serves more than 2,500 clients in Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Utah, and Wisconsin. For more information about the company, visit www.sjpi.com.