Pickleball helps pave way for more indoor sports at Grand Park Events Center in Westfield


It only makes sense that America’s fastest-growing sport would find a home in one of its fastest-growing cities.

Following on the heels of the two-week Holiday Pickleball Festival, Grand Park Events Center hosted two Association of Pickleball Players tournaments Jan. 3 through 7.

“This is the kickoff of the APP tour for 2024,” APP founder and Tournament Director Ken Herrmann said.

The APP Midwest Open featured amateurs of all levels, from preteens to septuagenarians playing doubles and singles.

Besides the tournament, the APP held its first ever Collegiate Championship. Teams and individuals from 26 colleges and universities competed for $50,000 in scholarship money.

The goal with the collegiate competitions is to move to a regional model, Herrmann said. There will be three college tournaments in the fall of 2024 for players to qualify for the next APP Collegiate Championship, which will return to Grand Park Events Center in January 2025.

“We’re going to kick it off right back here in January,” Herrmann said.

APP Strategic Partnerships Coordinator Max Ziemer said that the Grand Park Events Center has served the needs of the APP and the tournaments well.

“We were lucky enough to have it at this facility,” Ziemer said. “In my opinion, this is the best venue. It just makes our job a whole lot easier with all of the staff and setup they have here.”

The setup includes 10 basketball-sized wood courts purchased to make events like the pickleball tournaments possible at Grand Park Events Center.

“We were fortunate enough to be the first recipients of funds from the newly formed Indiana State Bid Fund,” Westfield Sports Commission President Matt Deck said. “We received a grant for $200,000 that was used to purchase the floors and help attract the APP to bring their Collegiate Championship and Midwest Open.”

According to Deck, the Hamilton County Tourism and Sports Authority provided the additional $600,000 that was needed to make the $800,000 purchase. The floors, which were used to create 25 pickleball courts, will be stored to be used in the future for pickleball, basketball, volleyball or any other use at Grand Park or even rented by other facilities.

Prior to the APP tournaments, the Holiday Pickleball Festival in December 2023 met with success as well, both for those who wanted to have fun and for those who wanted to raise funds. The festival was organized by the Grand National Racquet Club, which plans to build a facility near Grand Park.

Besides the Winter Pickleball Team Smash hosted by Elevate Sports and the Midwest High School Pickleball tournament, the festival included two inaugural fundraisers. Pickleball 4 Parkinson’s raised money for the Indiana Parkinson Foundation. Wine, Women and Pickleball raised money for The Little Red Door Cancer Agency, and even drew Lt. Fov. Suzanne Crouch to attend in support. In addition to the scheduled events, players could reserve courts during the festival and play for fun with friends and family.

“Not only is pickleball athletic, but it creates a sense of community,” doubles player Lauren Horrall said.

Horrall and her twin sister Lindsey Hadley, both sponsored pickleball players, drove from Mt. Carmel, Ill., to Westfield to play in the APP Midwest Open.