Top 6 Cities to Open a Climbing Gym


Pittsburgh, PA

Population of Metro Area: 2,360,733
Number of Public Climbing Gyms: 2

Pittsburgh is currently served by two of the oldest climbing gyms in the country (they opened in 1992 & 1993 respectively), which indicates there is a stable albeit small local climbing community. Adding a modern climbing gym to the region, which is one of the largest population centers on the east coast, would give the gym a prime base of operations to expand into other rust belt cities such as Cleveland, Akron and Columbus. Kiplinger even rated Pittsburgh as one of the top 10 best places to open a business.

The city is working hard to attract businesses in the energy and tech sectors, which will bring in the young, educated professionals that climbing gyms love to have as members. In fact NPR reported in 2010, that with “the unemployment rate nearly 2 percentage points lower than the national average, 1,600 technology companies and a growing population — the city has largely moved on from its industrial roots.” For the second quarter of 2013 Pittsburgh’s Composite Cost of Living Index is well below the benchmark average, and is the second-lowest after Cincinnati.

Until the 1980’s Pittsburgh was a major center of manufacturing, with the steel trade driving its economy. With the decline of its manufacturing industries the city was left with a glut of large industrial buildings which could provide ideal space for building climbing walls.

Industrial property price has gone down 6.8% since last year and is now at $42 square foot. But since most of these new professionals will be working downtown a smart gym owner maybe be looking for centrally located office building to build out, and can expect to pay $74 square foot. This is still significantly lower than the state asking price of $97/sq ft.

Harness Consulting