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 players and coaches in the pickleball community, Schnupp 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 Millersville. 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, this summer.
Schnupp became passionate about pickleball after a neighbor asked him to participate in his community’s local pickleball league in Shipley’s Choice. The league 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,” he said. “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% over the past three years.
Schnupp began spending more time playing in the Kyle Yates Memorial Pickleball League, which, three years after its founding, had grown to more than 60 teams. He then started developing the business plan for a dedicated indoor pickleball facility to provide a place to play in all seasons throughout the year. Schnupp 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 hot spots, 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, 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.
It 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.
For more information, visit www.thedinkusa.com.