Jorja Johnson of the Onerous Eights celebrates a degree with teammate Cierra Gaytan-Leach through the Main League Pickleball finals match towards BLQK at Pickle & Chill on October 16, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio.
Emilee Chinn | Getty Photographs
Two rival pickleball leagues with big-time backers are becoming a member of forces.
Main League Pickleball and the Skilled Pickleball Affiliation’s new VIBE Pickleball League have agreed to merge, the organizations stated Wednesday.
Monetary phrases of the deal weren’t disclosed. The mixed league will proceed to function beneath the Main League Pickleball model title and format because the quickly rising sport surges in reputation.
“We’ve got agreed to agreed to a strategic merger to unify the game of pickleball as a worldwide, co-ed, team-based league that includes the best gamers, largest occasions, and visionary house owners, MLP founder Steve Kuhn and PPA co-founder Tom Dundon stated in a joint assertion.
Dundon, a personal fairness investor who owns the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, bought the PPA and Pickleball Central in January.
PPA and MLP have operated independently, beneath totally different codecs: PPA was targeted on a person format, whereas MLP featured co-ed groups. Final week, the PPA introduced the creation of the VIBE Pickleball League with Mark Cuban as its first crew proprietor. VIBE stated it might be crew targeted and co-ed, much like what Main League Pickleball has been doing.
The PPA options high gamers comparable to Ben Johns, Tyson McGuffin and Anna Leigh Waters. Its individual-competition operations will proceed.
“Coming collectively as one crew league permits us to construct a lot larger occasions, provide extra prize cash, improve participant improvement, pursue bigger media and sponsorship offers and, most significantly, develop the sport all of us love,” the assertion stated.
Pickleball has seen explosive progress, and companies and big-name celebrities desire a piece of the motion.
In latest months, MLP has introduced dozens of high-profile traders, together with NBA superstars LeBron James and Kevin Durant, and Tom Brady and Drew Brees of NFL fame. On Tuesday, the league introduced Anheuser-Busch as the primary Fortune 500 firm to buy an MLP crew.
Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk have each made investments in Main League Pickleball.
Speaking about his funding within the sport in 2021, Lasry informed Sports activities Enterprise Journal: “I feel you are going to be shocked [by] the place it’s 5 years from now.”
Corporations like Life Time Well being Golf equipment are changing lots of their tennis courts into pickleball courts and can start internet hosting MLP tournaments. Different entrepreneurs are investing in multi-million greenback complexes.
Google searches for the game are up greater than 200% over the past 5 years, stated gear maker Selkirk.
“We’re simply getting began,” the leagues stated of their joint assertion Wednesday. “Right now marks an actual milestone within the evolution of pickleball. In a world determined for extra social connection and causes to rejoice, we’re so excited for this merger and what it means for our group and our stunning sport.”