3 min read

MLP and the PPA Tour finalise landmark pickleball merger


Major League Pickleball (MLP) and the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) Tour have officially completed their merger, solidifying a commitment to elevate the burgeoning fringe sport.

The merger, announced last September, has been eagerly anticipated – aiming to avoid organisational clashes and foster growth within the community.

Under the merger agreement, both associations have joined forces to operate under a single holding company while retaining their individual brands and unique tournament formats. This unified entity represents a significant step forward for professional pickleball, backed by a substantial US$75 million investment from a consortium comprising private equity firm SC Holdings, PPA Tour owners Tom Dundon, the Pardoe family, existing MLP team owners and DC Pickleball Team owner Al Tylis.

The merger brings together more than 150 professional players, including top-ranked athletes, under one umbrella. These players have committed to new multi-year contracts as part of the deal. The new combined calendar integrates events from both the team-based MLP circuit and the individual-centric, bracket-style competitions of the PPA Tour.

A key highlight of the merger is the projected increase in annual payouts, with combined payouts under the new unified organisation expected to surge by nearly 250 percent compared to 2023. This significant boost underscores the commitment of both associations to enhancing the professional pickleball landscape and providing greater opportunities for players.

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

“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.”

Bruce Popko, MLP chief executive, added, “This merger signals the next phase of growth for professional pickleball, and the combined resources and networks of the PPA Tour and MLP will support the sport at all levels.”

The merger positions the unified entity as an attractive prospect for sponsors, broadcast partners, venue operators, equipment manufacturers and other stakeholders, offering enhanced opportunities for collaboration and exposure. Despite operating under a parent company, both the PPA Tour and MLP will maintain their distinct brands, providing sponsors and partners with the flexibility to align with the brand that best suits their business objectives.

The joint venture is gearing up for an action-packed calendar, with the next PPA Tour event, the Pickleball Central Indoor USA Championships, scheduled to commence on March 6.

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