A fast-growing sport that is popular in South America and Europe could make its next appearance in Wellington — with the support of superstar rapper Daddy Yankee.
Padel, which is played with teams of two and has been described as a mix of tennis and squash, is booming in popularity in the U.S. with a growing professional presence and backing from some big names in sports and entertainment.
Now, Wellington could be next on the list of U.S. cities that are adding padel facilities to meet the increasing need.
The village recently received an unsolicited proposal from 10BY20 LLC to build, operate and maintain a padel facility at the Wellington Tennis Center.
Before Wellington can move forward with the proposal, the village needs to follow Florida law and publish a 21-day notice saying that it received the proposal and asking if anyone else is interested in developing something similar. The council during Tuesday night’s meeting directed Wellington’s staff to publish that notice.
Adding a little meat to 10BY20’s proposal: Backing from Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez, better known as rapper, actor and apparent padel enthusiast Daddy Yankee, who recorded a short video for the council to encourage them to consider the project.
Daddy Yankee owns a piece of the Pro Padel League and the Orlando PPL team, and is listed on the 10BY20 proposal to Wellington as “Urban King and Icon, Marketing.” 10BY20 CEO Luis Carrero owns the Orlando PPL franchise team with Daddy Yankee. He is a Miami Marlins shareholder.
“Let’s make Wellington not just great for tennis,” said Fernando Fiksman, 10BY20 investor, adding, “Our mission is to bring padel to people of all ages.”
The proposal sent to Wellington — which you can scroll down to see in full — includes seven padel courts on the northeast corner of the Wellington Tennis Center property. The southeast corner would be left open for the village to build another six tennis courts in the future.
The proposal also includes a cafe, shop, changing rooms and bathrooms.
If approved by the council in August, the proposal outlines a timeline that would have the padel facilities open in January 2024.
the 10BY20 plans to invest $1.5 million, then pay Wellington a proposed yearly rent of $126,000. The initial lease term would be 10 years, with an option for an additional 10 years. After that, the facilities would be owned by Wellington, the proposal said. There is a proposed annual lease increase of 3%, and 10BY20 would operate the center from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
The padel facility would host weekly group clinics for children and seniors, and there would be a 15% court rental discount for Tennis Center members and a 10% court rental discount for Wellington residents, the proposal said.
Padel courts are a little smaller than tennis courts and typically have glass walls at either end.
Because padel is less physically demanding than tennis, it can be a great sport for seniors, said David Navarro, project architect.
“It’s dynamic but it’s less demanding than tennis, and it’s also easy to have fun,” he said.
Speaking to Wellington’s council during Monday’s agenda review workshop, Tennis Center director Chuck Gill said padel and tennis go well together on one site.
“They actually mesh much better than pickleball and tennis,” Gill said. Pickleball, while fast-growing, has received pushback from some people who live near pickleball courts and say the constant noise is a nuisance. As I reported recently for The Palm Beach Post, Palm Beach Gardens, acting on noise concerns from neighbors, recently moved a pickleball court construction project from Oaks Park to Lilac Park, which has no direct residential neighbors.
Because padel is an internationally popular sport, a lot of equestrians have asked about offering it at the Tennis Center, Gill said.
“Everything I’m hearing about the courts that are being developed in Miami and in different parts of the country, they’re incredibly busy and people really like it,” Gill said, adding, “It’s a little more of a refined game than pickleball, and it does blend with tennis for sure.”
After the 21-day period, the council will receive and review any proposals and make a decision on how to move forward.
There already is another group that wants to propose a similar plan, Village Manager Jim Barnes said.
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