HS Visio | Last year, Kalle Väinölä received 10 million euros for the construction of padel fields, but now warns against overheating the sector: “His limits on everything”.

Finland seems to be confused about the padel. Kalle Väinölä has invested tens of millions of euros in the industry and explains why there is a risk of overheating in the field business.

Them is on the beaches, in old industrial buildings, next to tennis courts and on the outskirts of shopping malls. And more is coming all the time.

So the paddle fields.

The whole of Finland seems to be confused about padel, which is a racket game somewhat reminiscent of a combination of tennis and squash.

One of the culprits of the craze is Kalle Väinölä, CEO of Padel Club Finland, Finland’s largest padel chain. As a matter of fact, he is also a passionate athlete.

“All my life I’ve been involved in sports and it’s really a way of life for me. Now padel is the number one sport, both as a job and as a hobby, ”says Väinölä.

Väinölä grew up in Lahti next to a golf course. The bay is known as a sports city anyway, so there were plenty of recreational opportunities. It provided guidelines for Väinölä’s later life.

As a teenager, Väinölä began to focus more and more on golf and became a full-time professional in the 1990s. He played as a golf professional for 11 years, including on a European tour, until he ended his career in 2005.

Immediately after the end of his golfing career, he was involved in founding the Golf Gamebook, a kind of golfer results service and social media.

Five years ago, Väinölä discovered a new species.

Väinölän friends had founded Finland’s first padel club in Kilo, Espoo, and asked Väinölä to try the sport. He had not held a raspberry stick in his hand while he was alive. However, other racket games, namely tennis, squash, badminton and ping pong, were familiar.

“Finns are bad at praising themselves, but perhaps in this context we can mention that I am the Finnish champion of racket games.”

Väinölä entered the field with confidence.

“The shock was reasonable when I was in the padel at first right in the yard. And the most special thing was that even though I was in the yard, I had a nice time. ”

To the same Väinölä decided to take a respite from working life and take a vacation for a few months.

It was new to the competitive Väinölä. He had practically not vacationed at any point in his adult life.

“The shock was reasonable when I was in the padel at first right in the yard. And the most special thing was that even though I was in the yard, I had a nice time. ”

Those months he mostly played padel. At the same time, it became clear that more fields were needed, and quickly.

“Just because you can play for yourself. Demand was many times the number of fields. ”

Väinölä considers the padel in a way the opposite of the golf of its former number one sport.

In golf, there will be little performance. A professional hits a golf ball an average of 70 times per round. What makes golf especially grueling is that the game is played primarily against oneself.

“95 percent of golf rounds therefore end in some degree of disappointment. There is almost always something left in the tooth cavity. ”

In Padel, the situation is the opposite. The game happens constantly and feelings of success come often. In addition, Väinölä emphasizes the social side of the barrel. It’s a team game where you have time to exchange affiliations during the game.

Väinölä got excited about padel and soon he was involved in running the Padel Club. In 2017, he rose to become the company’s CEO.

Padel Club Finlandin the timing looks excellent. The new species has struck through Finland with such force that the like is rarely seen.

According to the Padel Association, the number of enthusiasts has more than tenfold in four years to about 45,000, and the growth continues.

Padelists argue that it would be even the fastest growing sport in the world. The ultimate truth is almost impossible to ascertain, as no official statistics are kept for enthusiasts of the sport.

However, the argument is not entirely out of whack.

Thousands of padel fields have risen in Europe over the last couple of years, and the popularity shows no signs of fading. For example, there are 1,500 fields in Sweden and more than 10,000 in Spain.

Like so often, in this case too, Finland is following the rest of Europe. The first fields rose in Finland about ten years ago. Now the number of fields is counted in several hundred.

Therefore, Väinölä closely monitors the development of the species abroad.

“In Sweden, you can see very well where the industry is developing. The number of fields and players continues to grow there, but no field is growing endlessly exponentially. ”

Although the species has started small, in Sweden the padelbusiness is currently dominated by a few large chains. They grab the best properties in the best locations and are able to provide the best gaming experience.

The same development is underway in Finland.

One One of Väinölä’s most important tasks in the management of Padel Club is to assess how big Padel can still grow.

Mistakes would be costly. The largest item of expenditure for the padding company is the fields. One padel field costs tens of thousands of euros. On top of that, there will be rent and staff costs.

The padel is often played with a tennis ball or a ball made separately for the padel with a slightly lower pressure than the tennis ball.

A large part of Väinölä’s working time goes to finding new properties together with partners. Of the twenty points of interest, perhaps one is worth a padelhall.

“I recently visited Vantaa in a really interesting place. However, the walls were 30 centimeters too narrow, there is no room for anything. ”

As there are no suitable buildings in good places in Finland, Padel Club also intends to build its own halls. That’s the main reason the company acquired last year a financial package of EUR 10 million From the former owner of the DNA operator, Finda.

Padel Clubin the financial statements show that a well-located club can indeed excel. Last year, the parent company of Padel Club made an operating profit of approximately EUR 300,000 with a turnover of EUR 1.6 million.

In addition to Väinölä, many others believe that big chains and clubs are the future of the paddle. Other major padel chains include Nordic Padel and ex-hockey player Ville Leinon Billebeino Padel.

Rapid growth can be a threat to the meaningfulness of the entire business. If everyone wants to be big, the fields can get up so fast that the numbers of enthusiasts don’t keep up.

Väinölä admits that in some cities, the construction of fields is already out of hand.

“Every paddle field certainly serves as an advertisement for the sport, but it has its limits on everything. If the number of padel fields in a small town increases tenfold in a few months, not all fields can be profitable. ”

In Lahti, for example, the number of padel fields will increase from a few to a couple of ten this year.

“There’s hardly room for more.”

Väinölä reminds of the realities of the padelbusiness. The space lease does not scale and the value of the company does not multiply in an instant. Things are often simple on paper and practically complex.

“Quite a few can make an Excel record of expenses and income in one field and duplicate its model for ten fields. Such a calculation does not show the raw work that this business requires. I’m guessing that many paddle entrepreneurs have forgotten to calculate the share of raw work. ”

Väinölä does not want to say very precisely how many hours a day a padel Field has to be sold in order to become profitable. However, it is clear that the figure varies considerably according to field costs.

“The number of fields and players continues to grow there, but no field is growing endlessly exponentially.”

Let’s do it a small Exercise based on rough estimates from the Padel Association and the supplier. So a simple calculation like the one Väinölä just warned about.

In May, the Padel Association estimates that there will be more than 800 fields in Finland next year.

Assume that the average paddle field needs to be rented daily for five hours for it to become profitable.

Let’s multiply it by seven days of the week.

And since the padel is played in doubles, the number is multiplied by four.

According to the calculation, Finnish paddle fields will need at least 115,000 weekly paddle players next year.

These are averages. Some players may play for several hours a week, some only once a month. The best fields can sell their turn even with smaller numbers of enthusiasts, but there may not be enough customers for all the fields.

The drug should also persist beyond next year. It will take years for a field of tens of thousands of euros to pay for itself and hall leases can be as long as ten years.

As a whole looking at the situation is clear.

Padel needs to consolidate its position as one of Finland’s most popular sports, or paddle entrepreneurs have playoffs ahead.

“Yes, one hundred thousand weekly players is possible next year. And so I hope, not only as a paddy entrepreneur, but also as a sports person and an advocate of public health, ”Väinölä says.

Just before the article was published, the Padel Association says it has raised its assessment of the development of the number of padel fields.

Back in May, the association predicted that there would be more than 800 padel fields in Finland next year. Now the association estimates that there will be about 960 fields in Finland next year.

Based on the above calculation and 960 fields, there should be more than 130,000 weekly cannon players next year. Otherwise, many cannon fitters will lose their night’s sleep.

Kalle Väinölä

Age: 49

Career: Golf professional 1994-2005, CEO of Golf Gamebook 2006-2016, CEO of Padel Club Finland 2017-

Education: Student

Family: Wife and two children

Hobbies: Padel and other racket games, golf

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