A vivid sign covers a full wall adjacent to 14 indoor pickleball courts at Espire Sports complex at the Prescott Gateway Mall. Another five pickleball courts are being completed outside for outdoor competition. (Photo by Ray Newton)
By Ray Newton
The recently opened Espire Sports multisport complex on the east side of Prescott Gateway Mall contains indoor active sports and fitness opportunities ranging from 14 pickleball courts, a basketball court, volleyball, ping-pong, a golf putting green to billiards — and more.
Located in what was once the Sears store at 3400 Gateway Boulevard off Highway 69, the interior of the 100,000-square-foot space was gutted and remodeled to accommodate sports, fitness and wellness venues.
CEO-founder Jim Thomas said he conceived of Espire four years ago: “I realized that pickleball was going to be the most popular participant sport in the country.
“Ten years ago, if I had asked someone to play pickleball, they’d ask, ‘What’s that?’ Now, it’s sweeping the country. I believe Espire Sports and other community pickleball courts can make Prescott into the finest pickleball destination in the nation.”
In addition to the indoor courts, five outdoor pickleball courts are under construction on the south side of the building.
The team supervising Espire includes Thomas, his brother Randy, General Manager Rita Kavanaugh and Membership Director Peg Travers.
Thomas bought the former Sears store and then spent several million more in the reconstruction.
“When the Sears site became available, we knew it was what we wanted,” he said. “I negotiated and bought the Sears property for $3.6 million. Because the location is next to other mall retail shops, it is convenient for locals and visitors. And parking is more than adequate.”
Kavanaugh added, “Jim didn’t mention that we’ve got a café and refreshment bar with juice, smoothies, organic products and healthy snacks. We’ve also got an arcade, fitness center with full range of exercise equipment, rooms for yoga, aerobics and Pilates, complete locker rooms with showers.
“In 2023, we’ll have a large boutique-style hotel with more than 110 rooms and suites and a swimming pool.”
Travers, the membership director, said, “Even before we opened, more than 300 persons had signed up for memberships.” Four levels of membership are available from Founder, Player, Player + Fitness, to Fitness only. Sub-categories in each level range from individual to family to couples and day passes.
Owner Thomas said he’s pleased his vision is now a reality. “We did it. We’re open. No matter why you are coming — personal visit, tournament, clinic, camp, family recreation or to make new friends and enjoy the terrific Prescott hospitality — you are welcome. We want people to take advantage of what the first three letters of Espire mean: Eat, Stay and Play.”
For more details, call 928.533-1535 or visit www.espiresports.com.