Major League Pickleball and PPA Tour Finalize Their Much-anticipated Merger

Credits: Front Office Sports

Major League Pickleball (MLP) and the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) have successfully completed their anticipated merger agreement and have injected new funding into the sport, the leagues announced on Thursday.

This agreement will bring together the two largest pickleball organizations, forming a holding company. However, both the PPA Tour and MLP will maintain their distinct brands and formats. The name of the new company is yet to be disclosed.

After months of negotiations, drama, and tensions between the rival pickleball leagues, this merger marks a significant development in shaping the future of professional pickleball.

Major League Pickleball (Credits: CNBC)

The consolidation includes a substantial $75 million investment from a group that consists of private equity firm SC Holdings, Al Tylis (owner of D.C. Pickleball Team), Tom Dundon and the Pardoe Family (owners of PPA Tour), and a group of existing MLP team owners.

“This is an exciting day for everyone involved or interested in the world of pickleball,” said Connor Pardoe, founder and CEO of PPA Tour.

“MLP and the PPA Tour working as partners creates a sustainable, viable, and healthy ecosystem for all key participants in which the best players in the world can play in both of the thrilling pickleball formats, ensuring that we’re promoting the highest-quality, most exciting events.”

The merger will bring together over 150 professional pickleball players, including many top-ranked players globally. Players have signed new multiyear contracts as part of the deal, with a significant number set to participate in an expanded calendar that integrates PPA Tour and MLP events throughout the year.

The PPA Tour follows an individual bracket-style tour, while MLP operates on a team-based format. The combined payouts under the new unified organization are anticipated to surge by nearly 250% this year compared to the previous year, as stated in the release.

Despite the positive announcement, some players have expressed concerns about delayed payments for past tournaments. “I will believe it when they start paying,” remarked one player.

Zane Navratil, an MLP player, voiced his optimism about recent progress, stating, “As somebody that has been critical of the PPA in the past, I’m really encouraged by the conversations that I’ve personally had with their leadership recently. I think that everybody in pickleball is ready for the fresh start that this provides.”

The combined organization is expected to be a catalyst for the professional sport, offering players, fans, and sponsors the advantages of a more streamlined schedule.

“Commercially, this unification positions us to be even better partners, as sponsors, broadcast partners, venue operators, equipment manufacturers, and others will benefit from the combined, expanded 2024 schedule of PPA and MLP events,” said Bruce Popko, CEO of MLP.

The journey to this merger has been marked by challenges. While the merger agreement was initially announced in September 2023, it faced obstacles following a bitter falling out between the organizations, resulting in a competitive race to sign players.

The subsequent overspending forced both leagues to backtrack and request players to accept pay cuts. In the aftermath, MLP witnessed significant leadership changes with the resignation of founder Steve Kuhn and the departure of CEO Julian DePietro and Commissioner Brooks Wiley.

Hey guys, I am a passionate content writer, I just love to share my opinion on the content which I saw and write about them. Thanks.