The major forces in professional U.S. pickleball are finally coming together.
Major League Pickleball is merging with the PPA Tour with a new $50 million investment to fuel the new entity.
The brands will remain distinct, but the merger aims to eliminate schedule conflicts and competition over players. The funding round was led by SC Holdings and MLP team owner Al Tylis, with participation from PPA Tour owner Tom Dundon and other MLP team owners.
“The holding company unifying the PPA Tour and MLP will create a streamlined sport for fans and add more meaningful opportunities for player competition, broadcasting rights, and sponsorship throughout the professional pickleball calendar,” said Dundon.
The two leagues agreed to a merger last year, but reports emerged last month that the pact was on thin ice.
Both pickleball leagues sprung up within the last five years as participation in the racquet sport has surged. In 2022, 8.9 million people played pickleball, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, an increase of 159% over three years. The US added 130 places to play per month last year, according to USA Pickleball.
The PPA Tour focuses on individual achievements and rankings, while MLP has attracted a slew of athlete and celebrity team investors, including Tom Brady, LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Kevin Durant, Drake, Michael B. Jordan, Patrick Mahomes, Naomi Osaka, Rich Paul, and Gary Vaynerchuk.
Editor’s note: SC Holdings is an investor in Front Office Sports.