Pickleball is coming off of its best year yet.
The sport, which exploded in popularity during the pandemic, saw more than 36.5 million people in the U.S. play between August 2021 and August 2022, according to a report by the Association of Pickleball Professionals. Before the report, around 5 million people played pickleball.
- About 14% of Americans played at least once between August 2021 and August 2022.
- Over 8.5 million people played more than eight times during that same span.
Major League Pickleball will look to capitalize on the growth in 2023 with a new format and schedule. The league will hold events in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Southern California.
The 2023 MLP season will have $5 million in prize money and payouts up for grabs.
Pickleball’s popularity has drawn the interest of investors and the world’s best athletes.
In 2022, LRMR Ventures, the family office of LeBron James and his business partner Maverick Carter, purchased an MLP team. The purchasing group also included NBA stars Draymond Green and Kevin Love, investment firm SC Holdings, Relevent Sports Group co-owner and CEO Daniel Sillman, and SpringHill Company CMO Paul Rivera.
Tom Brady and six-time tennis Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters purchased an expansion MLP team that will begin play in 2023. Thirty Five Ventures, the investment firm founded by Kevin Durant, also has an expansion franchise.
Editor’s note: SC Holdings is an investor in Front Office Sports.