Padel Sports Clubs in Spain

Article excerpt

Executive summary

In this theoretical and empirical study we begin by categorising padel as being a racket sport. Following a brief introduction outlining its origin, we present data pertaining to the practice of this sport in Spain. This establishes the basis of our study, allowing us to focus on the supply side of padel at the present time: an empirical analysis is carried out through surveys of sports clubs where this sport is practiced with the objective of determining the viability of these centres. With the data gathered from the padel clubs we develop a business plan which could serve as a guide to professionals or investors in the area of sports management. Finally, we explore the possibilities of expansion for padel beyond Spanish borders analysing different marketing strategies .

The history of Padel

European countries such as Spain, France and England, along with South American countries such as Argentina, have over the past few years witnessed a real explosion of interest in padel. To analyse this phenomenon in depth, we will look into its origins and differentiate padel from other racket sports.

Among the documents we have relied upon to identify the historic roots of padel we include the studies of Hernandez-Vazquez (1997), Correa & Correa (2006), papers presented at the IV World Congress of Science and Racquet Sports (Madrid, 2006) and information provided by the Spanish and international associations of padel. This takes us to the first quarter of the 20th century, where a game similar to padel was played for leisure by the passengers on English cruise ships. A comparable game, called 'paddle-tennis', was played in the parks of New York at that time. The sport, played with a short-handled racket and without a centre net, was also played in other states, including New Jersey, Connecticut and Washington D.C., and was practised as a substitute for tennis during the winter season.

Research into the origins of padel in Spain brings us to Alfonso de Hohenlohe, a Spanish businessman and a member of the German nobility. He is best known for his promotion of the Spanish coastal resort town of Marbella in the Costa del Sol in southern Spain and the foundation of The Marbella Club (1954), an exclusive resort club that attracted the international jet set. In 1974 de Hohenlohe visited Mexico, invited by a Mexican industrialist, Enrique Corcuera, who, in search of a less demanding racket sport, had created a game (Paddle Association of Canada, 2008). This consisted of adding front (fronton) and back walls 3 metres in height to a court, placing a net in the middle and enclosing the entire playing area with a fence. The game was played with wooden rackets and a tennis ball and was called padel-tennis.

Upon his return to Spain, Alfonso de Hohenlohe perfected his new-found sport by finetuning details of the court (type of surface, dimensions), establishing rules for the game and later building the first two padel courts at The Marbella Club. He continued to spread interest among tennis stars, including Manolo Santana, winner of four tennis grand slams in the early 1960s, who organised tournaments. The two men began to build padel courts at other clubs around the Costa del Sol.

In 1975 another friend of Alfonso de Hohenlohe, the millionaire Argentinian Julio Menditegui, a regular visitor to Marbella, decided to take the game to Argentina, where within a few years it enjoyed an unprecedented surge of popularity. Today it is the second most practised sport in the country--after soccer (Correa & Correa, 2006). Interest in padel spread, to Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay, gaining many players, and its influence reached North America, as demonstrated in the appendix list of padel associations.

The spread of padel in Spain began in large cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Malaga, Valencia, La Coruna and San Sebastian, where courts were built in sports clubs that previously had had only tennis courts. …