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New Fairfax pickleball center serves up grand opening with pro players exhibition

Down the Line Sports Center’s Fairfax location has five indoor pickleball courts (courtesy Fairfax City Economic Development)

Professional pickleball players, local officials and community members are expected to turn out in abundance for the upcoming grand opening of Down the Line Sports Center in Fairfax City.

After a soft opening in early February, the indoor pickleball facility at Courthouse Plaza (10390 Willard Way) will officially introduce itself to the city tomorrow (Thursday). The event will kick off at 5 p.m. with a ribbon-cutting, followed by a meet-and-greet with six pro athletes visiting from around the country.

Those players — Rafa Hewett, Connor Garnett, Dylan Frazier, Pablo Tellez, Lea Jansen and Etta Wright — have also been enlisted for an evening of exhibition games that will start at 7 p.m. The $50 tickets for the exhibition include food and drinks at Chubby Squirrel Brewing Company, which is next door to Down the Line.

As of this morning (Wednesday), fewer than 20 tickets were left, according to Down the Line owner Jenni Bae.

“We’re really excited about our grand opening tomorrow,” Bae told FFXnow. “…Having six Major League Pickleball players here at one time to do an exhibition is a really big deal and something really special that we wanted to bring to the community, so we’re hoping that they enjoy it, and these are the kinds of things that…we want to bring to this area moving forward.”

Located in a former CVS, Down the Line Fairfax features three full-sized pickleball courts, one half-sized court and a short practice court, along with a players’ lounge and mini pro shop. Each of the full courts has a scoreboard that can be updated live, and courtside TVs will soon allow players to watch instant replays.

Bae says the soft opening has gone “really well,” describing the center’s members as already feeling like family.

Down the Line’s memberships cost $45 per month and come with discounts on private court and open play fees, a two-week window for booking private courts in advance and other perks.

“We’ve already built a community here. People have been really welcoming and excited to have this extra space as an option to play pickleball, so we felt very welcome,” Bae said.

Support for Down the Line has also come from local leaders. The facility won the Fairfax City Council’s approval in December, and construction costs were partially covered by a Façade and Interior Improvement Grant from Fairfax City Economic Development (FCED).

Being able to form those relationships, including the FCED, in advance resulted in a “very, very smooth” build-out, according to Bae, who’s excited that Mayor Catherine Read, FCED President and CEO Christopher Bruno and other city officials will participate in tomorrow’s ribbon-cutting.

“I am blown away by the unwavering commitment and dedication shown by Jenni Bae and her family to reach this milestone,” Bruno said. “Their vision and determination are commendable, and I am thrilled that Fairfax City will now reap the benefits with the unveiling of this newly activated destination for all of Northern Virginia.”

Down the Line’s arrival in Fairfax is a prelude to plans for a second, even larger facility in Annandale.

Replacing the vacant Kid’s Choice Sports Center at 4311 Ravensworth Road, the 50,000-square-foot center will feature 18 full-sized indoor courts, six golf simulators, a sports bar with food and drinks, and a pickleball and golf shop.

Bae’s team hopes to open the Annandale location around the end of 2024 or early 2025. Members of the Fairfax center will get priority access to a membership in Annandale, along with other benefits, though the details are still being worked out.

Bae says her goal is to ensure all members and customers have a “high-quality experience” at Down the Line, whether they visit the Fairfax center or the future one in Annandale.

“We’re excited to see more people come in, experience our center and the different things we have to offer,” she said. “…Everyone who comes in here, the first thing they notice is the atmosphere and the vibe here is very welcoming, makes you feel very at ease and at home, and that’s exactly what I wanted to provide for the people that come in here.”

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