Pickleball’s MLP and PPA Tour merge

The two competitions will continue to operate separately but form a joint calendar and board of directors.

Alex Donaldson March 01 2024

North American professional pickleball organizations the PPA Tour and MLP have announced the finalization of a merger to consolidate the two into one unified body.

The merger was first announced in September 2023, where it was stated that a consortium of parties that include the S.C. Holdings private equity firm, current PPA owners Tom Dundon and the Pardoe family, Al Tylis, and a number of current MLP team owners had backed the merger in a $50 million investment.

In a statement confirming the finalization of the merger, however, the value of the investment has now increased to $75 million.

Representatives from all of the consortium investors will maintain seats on the board of the new combined body.

MLP and the PPA Tour both operate distinct formats, with the former a team-based competition and the latter an individual series, and as such both will retain their distinct branding and formats, and continue to operate their seasons, albeit under a combined tour calendar.

Bruce Popko, MLP chief executive, said: "While unified through a parent company, the PPA Tour and MLP will maintain their distinct brands, allowing sponsors and partners to invest in the brands that best align with their business goals, all the while showcasing a consistent, premier product for fans across both playing formats."

Popko continued: “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.”

The PPA is title sponsored by used car company Carvana, while MLP’s title sponsor is restaurant and resort chain Margaritaville.

Other prominent PPA commercial partners include Baird Wealth Management and utilities company Veolia, while MLP boasts the likes of light beer brand Michelob Ultra and tequila brand Dulce Vida.

 Over 150 of the players contracted across the two tours have already signed on as a part of the new entity, which will likely be a more financially sustainable prospect for the future, however as recently as December there has been major unrest among the tour’s participants over the cost of achieving financial viability.

In December several players from across the sport formed a collective body to address concerns with the PPA Tour and MLP management, primarily that they had been asked to take a 40% pay cut (paired with fewer commitments) to ensure the competitions kept afloat.

Many players alleged that they had received attempts at coercion to attempt to force them to accept the cuts, with “lies, threats, deceitfulness, false deadlines, and the refusal to honor written addendums” also alleged.

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