Major League Pickleball is ready for the big time
The Future. Major League Pickleball (MLP) is preparing for 2023 to be a hit, pouring more resources, money, and games into the league. With pickleball somehow emerging as one of the fastest-growing sports in America, prepare for your kids to one day go to college on a pickleball scholarship.
Pickleball is becoming more serious than a Saturday afternoon pastime.
- Axios reports that MLP is getting way bigger next year after MLP combined with Professional Pickleball Association’s VIBE League under one banner.
- The league is doubling its teams from 12 to 24 (with each team consisting of two men and two women) and pro events from three to six, hosted by health club chain Life Time.
- It’s also taking a page out of Premiere League Soccer, setting up a relegation system where teams will compete next year to be placed in the higher Premier Level or lower Challenger Level in 2024.
Additionally, players will actually get paid, and the winning team can claim up to $5 million in prize money.
Pickleball has become something of a pandemic phenomenon, with interim MLP CEO Brian Levine relaying that there are “an estimated 5 million pickleball players in the U.S., and the expectation is 40 million by 2030.” And according to WaPo, there are roughly three new pickleball facilities opening their doors each day. That’s some crazy growth if true.
And celebrities and brands are already getting involved. LeBron James, Tom Brady, Kevin Durant, and Anheuser-Busch are team owners. Little pickleball is getting some big bucks.