Major League Pickleball is picking up even more star power as Anheuser-Busch has announced it is purchasing an expansion team for the upcoming 2023 season.
America’s leading brewer is breaking into America’s fastest-growing sport.
Anheuser-Busch, the St. Louis-based brewing empire, announced Tuesday it is officially getting into the world of Major League Pickleball.
Calling it a “unique ownership model,” the company said it hopes to “build meaningful connections with fans like never before, unlocking new opportunities for growth and creativity.”
The agreement with Major League Pickleball gives Anheuser-Busch control over one of the league’s yet-to-be-announced expansion teams.
“We have a proud and longstanding history as a sponsor across all of major sports, and we’re excited to partner with Major League Pickleball – a sport with incredible growth and fan participation,” said Matt Davis, Head of U.S. Sports Marketing and Partnerships at Anheuser-Busch.
“Anheuser-Busch knows that fans are always looking for ways to engage with the sports they love, and we’re thrilled to be getting in on the ground level to bring them closer to Pickleball. We have already seen world-class individuals invest in teams and partnerships, and we share in their belief and excitement for the future success of this league and sport.”
Attracting a true titan of sports marketing like Anheuser-Busch could mean big things for Major League Pickleball in the years to come.
“Anheuser-Busch is one of the most impactful professional sport sponsors in the US, to have them join as an ownership partner is an incredible opportunity for Major League Pickleball,” said MLP Founder and CEO Steve Kuhn. “They have a unique ability in understanding the needs of fans, bringing them closer to the sport and brands they love. I can’t wait to see how this partnership will elevate both the MLP and the sport of Pickleball in the years to come.”
With 4.8 million players nationwide — a 40% increase from 2020 — Pickleball is considered to be the fastest-growing sport in America. The number of courts in the US has also doubled in the last five years to an estimated 35,000.
And now, with its latest slate of owners firmly on board, the league is continuing to ride the wave of pickleball’s popularity. In the upcoming season, MLP will expand from 12 to 16 teams, double events from three to six, and increase the player prize money pool to upwards of $2 million.
In addition to the latest ownership news, Major League PIckelball also recently announced a new strategic alliance with Life Time, a growing health and wellness company with nearly 160 athletic clubs across the US and Canada.
The alliance will continue elevating the sport by hosting tournaments and events at various Life Time locations. The clubs will adopt the Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating (DUPR) official rating system across all Life Time clubs, partnering on improved technology, and offering shared marketing support.
“This is an exciting time for all of us involved in making pickleball a sport that everyone chooses to play – whether competitively, for fun, for physical and mental health, to be a part of a welcoming community or all the above. I’ve never seen a sport so unifying,” said Life Time Founder, Chairman and CEO Bahram Akradi. “Through this strategic alliance among our organizations, we will take pickleball to the next level through elevated events, experiences, ratings and execution with one standard in mind – being the best. We are thrilled to be working with MLP and DUPR.”
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