Hello again! We hope you enjoyed our previous blog about how the Picklebarn dream started! We are excited to get into more details with you! We will start by going over a little bit of the timeline, the many decisions made, and end with our greatest challenges!
The timeline of the Picklebarn is definitely a long one. We started this process back in February of 2020. We started looking for land in June of 2020 and then the big hurdle of finding funding probably took about a year for us. Not everyone creating a pickleball facility, in fact most we have found, do not have to go about this portion of the timeline the same way we did. We secured our construction company in October of 2020 and have been working with them from the very start.
After a year of deciding on details and pinpointing a specific construction budget, we went on to secure our SBA 504 loan and bank loans. This process for many could be expedited for some due to having an easier time securing a loan and potentially not needing to go through the SBA.
It took about five months after securing the funding to actually break ground. Although the city of Mankato was very helpful during this process, this portion of the process felt like it took a very long time. We knew choosing to build instead of renovating an existing building was going to be much more challenging and take more time. At the start of planning, we were hoping to be open in November of 2021 however we were only able to get on the land late in October of 2021; things take time.
It’s All About the Details
Boy is that true! There have been almost an endless number of decisions to be made and we continue to make new ones every day! Don’t get us wrong, we love it. From the start, we wanted to be a part of every aspect of the project. Building a facility was our dream and every single detail mattered to us. Every decision we make is filtered through these three questions; Does this match the feel we want? Does this provide a professional pickleball experience? Will this provide an excellent service to our guests? These questions helped us stay on track with what our main goals were in making the Picklebarn.
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The first big decision made was the layout of the facility. Thankfully our construction crew has been there to help walk us through every single detail. They really gave us a lot of creative freedom to design the layout and function of the building! The layout of the facility took some time. We really wanted to make sure it was a professional-grade facility. USA Pickleball helped us to know exactly what size courts we wanted. There are actually many different sizes to choose from for court spacing and we wanted to make sure our guests would have plenty of room. We started as tennis players so it was important to us that the courts, even indoors, faced north and south, matching outdoor courts. The small details may not matter to most but they will matter to some and they certainly matter to us! We also had key elements we wanted the Picklebarn to have. Locker rooms, pro shop, and an upper viewing area were some of the main ones. After rearranging the building a few dozen times, we finally landed on a layout we liked and we felt comfortable sending our architect.
The next big decision was what we wanted the exterior of the building to look like. We had the name already in mind and really wanted the exterior to have a Picklebarn feel without being too cheesy. The big thing for us was finding inspiration photos and taking a few things we liked from many different places to create exactly what we wanted. There were some hurdles we had to deal with. The first was the shape of the roofline. We are still to this day a little bummed we had to change to a single slope because of winter weather and the height of our roof. The second was the metal barn look was not up to city standards so we had to add stone to the exterior of the building.
The last big decision was where to place our building and how we wanted it laid out on the land. This was at times a painstaking process. We wanted to find a spot that had great visibility for the facility, while still providing a country club secluded feel. We also wanted to have extra space around the building for possible future expansion as well as outdoor activities. Eventually, we found the perfect location!
There are so many more decisions such as court surface, fencing, building structure type, and interior and exterior finishes that we wish we could go over, but it would take way too long. At first, all this decision making seemed daunting. We had to keep reminding ourselves to just make one decision at a time and try not to feel overwhelmed by all that was still undecided. When we did feel overwhelmed, we were constantly reminding ourselves that we were fortunate in the first place to be able to have this kind of freedom with design. We were truly putting our dream down on paper and it was becoming a reality.
There have definitely been some big hurdles that we have needed to overcome and I am sure there will be many more. All of the big hurdles produced our biggest successes so far! The biggest hurdle that we have faced was securing funding for the project. There was a lot we needed to prepare when going into conversations with banks in order for them to feel comfortable with our proposal. It was such a weight off our shoulders once we finally found a bank that was willing to work with us!
It just goes to show that you shouldn’t give up if someone says no! If you keep at it, you will be able to find someone willing to give you a shot! When we got a bank to start talking with us about our project, it really gave us the confidence to push forward. Things were really put into motion after that. Securing the financing with the bank was just one portion, we also needed to secure financing with the SBA. This process took some time especially since it was during a pandemic with a record number of loans going out to help small businesses. We worked with some great SBA members. They were just as enthusiastic about our project as we were and we were able to secure an SBA loan!
Another one of the largest hurdles we dealt with, (and continue to deal with) is the price of materials and the supply chain right now. Our building is a steel structured building, with a lot of wood mixed in. Both of these materials have increased in price recently. We actually had to take a HUGE risk and order our building (steel structure package) before we secured funding. Every two weeks the cost would jump 12% and as you can imagine with a project this size that is a lot of money to lose. It was a risk we really felt we needed to take and thankfully it paid off. Our construction team has done a great job budgeting the project and are doing their best to keep costs down. This is an on-going hurdle for us, but we feel good about where we are at!
There have been MANY hurdles throughout this process, more than we could have imagined. There were actually a few times we felt like pulling the plug. We knew that this would not always be an easy journey but this has really been a test of faith for us. We leaned on our faith and were constantly praying for God to open doors he wanted open and shut ones that were not right for us. Each day we kept walking through the open door and trusted for Him to provide. There was one point, when we were so down about a couple of different aspects, our parents reminded us that we lost sight of all the amazing things we have accomplished to get to this point. From then on, we have tried our best to stay thankful even in the tough times. We are so glad we stuck it out! We knew we would regret it if we didn’t give it our best try!
See You For One More!
Thanks for checking in with our second blog article! We hope that you are enjoying learning a little bit more about our journey and how this project went from a dream to a reality! In our last blog article, we will be talking about feedback from the Mankato community and how we are trying to continue to build enthusiasm for the project before opening. We will also talk about where we currently are in the project and what else still needs to happen before the grand opening! See you then!
Are you dreaming of creating your own pickleball venue? Follow along in this series, The Picklebarn Dream. Subscribe to the Dink Newsletter to get updates directly in your inbox.