So we did it! Padel court in a tennis club
TC Rotweiss Bern – a traditional tennis club has recently built a padel court on the grounds of its tennis club. The club president, Reto Gehri (53), talks to GotCourts in an exclusive interview about his experiences during the project and a couple of months after the opening.
GotCourts (GC): Reto, when did you first get in touch with padel?
Reto Gehri (RG): About 4 - 5 years ago I heard for the first time about Padel or the American version Poptennis (same court but without glass/walls) and shortly after I held a Padel racket in my hand. The "ball-touch-feeling" with the padel racket fascinated me from the beginning. From then on I played with a padel racket and some old tennis balls on the street in front of the house or just on the tennis court. This was the only way to get closer to this sport, as there was no padel court in Bern yet.
GC: Why padel at TC Rotweiss? What was the motivation behind it?
RG: The fact that Padel will also boom in Switzerland was clear to me and to the board of TC Rotweiss already about 3 years ago. Since the available space on our club grounds made the construction of a padel court possible without "sacrificing" one of our 6 tennis courts, the construction of a padel court appeared very interesting to us. On the one hand, we focused on making the TC Rotweiss better known and more attractive with the first padel court in the greater Bern area. This is an important factor, as the tennis clubs in Bern are increasingly struggling with a loss of members. On the other hand, we wanted to make economic use of the " unused green space" on our club premises. It was always clear to us that we would not build the padel court simply as an addition for the tennis club members, but that we wanted to make the court accessible to the public and rent it commercially. With the income from the padel rental we want to increase the financial reserves of the club with regard to future, larger investments (e.g. renewal of the tennis courts, possibly with all-weather courts).
GC: What was the decision-making process like with the board and the members?
RG: In this regard, we had good cards in our hands. We found an investor who financed the construction of the padel court 100% with a risk-free loan for the club. No financial risk for the club TC Rotweiss, the prospect of additional club income to build up reserves and the foreseeable increase in club attractiveness under these conditions it was easy for the board to convince the members of the padel project. On the occasion of the General Assembly 2022, the construction of the Padel court was approved with an overwhelming majority.
GC: What was the project rollout like once the board and membership endorsed the project?
RG: For the realization of the project, we consulted a locally known and nationally active sports surface builder. Since our court was built on a greenfield site, a suitable subsoil of seepage asphalt and concrete foundation had to be created first. Through our surface builder, we then also ordered the padel court from a Spanish supplier. The court was delivered by truck from Spain in March 2023 and was ready for play within a few days with the help of a 4-person assembly team.
GC: What was the biggest challenge?
RG: The receipt of the building permit! There were no objections against our building project, but the responsible authorities and offices caused us some additional work and costs due to false statements and incorrect instructions. Moreover, the processing of our building application took a "perceived eternity".
GC: How have the members and players received this new sport? What was the feedback after a few weeks?
RG: We put our padel court into operation at the beginning of April 2023. Since then we have received a lot of positive feedback. Our club members appreciate the new sport and also like the design of the padel court, which blends in very well with the green, natural surroundings. Through GotCourts, members and general public can book the court for 60, 90 or 120 minutes. The rental costs can be paid online via GotCourts.
GC: Can padel really become economically interesting for tennis clubs?
RG: Economically interesting? Certainly! Additional income can be generated. In addition to the revenues, padel offers an exciting additional offer to make the tennis club more attractive and thus attract new club members.
GC: Does padel appeal only to tennis players or to other target groups as well?
RG: Padel definitely appeals to other target groups. Padel is easier to learn and play than tennis. Those who basically like ball games will find padel cool and have a lot of fun with it. I would estimate that about 60% of the current padel players on our facility have no "tennis background".
GC: How is the padel court occupancy after a few weeks?
RG: Despite the very changeable spring weather this year, our padel court is well occupied. Especially on weekends or public holidays, the court is often fully booked from morning to evening. Also the evening hours during the week are logically well occupied. The word is getting around in Bern that padel can be played on the Rotweiss. We therefore assume that the demand will increase from week to week. We are happy about that and we are sure that our padel court will become a success story.
GC: Would you encourage other tennis clubs to consider introducing padel at their facility?
RG: Absolutely and even more so if no tennis court has to be "sacrificed" for this. However, taking into account the economic situation and the spatial conditions, it is certainly interesting for a tennis club to give up a tennis court in favor of 2 or possibly 3 padel courts. Fact is: I experience every day how much fun people have playing padel. Today, we are more convinced than ever that the big padel boom in Switzerland is still ahead of us.
Source: Global Padel Report by Playtomic & Monitor Deloitte
Are you inspired by the story of TC Rotweiss and would you like to learn more about a possible padel project in your club or start your own padel project? Contact us and we will be happy to advise you free-of-charge.