Season 1 Premier Finals at Life Time Rancho San Clemente in San Clemente, California. The Seattle Pioneers play the Los Angeles Mad Drops in the Premier League mixed doubles competition.
Source: Major League Pickleball
There’s a problem in pickle paradise.
The Professional Pickleball League and the Major League Pickleball are now at odds after announcing in November that they would join forces and Merge team competition leagues.
PPA told CNBC that the MLP has yet to sign the partnership agreement it verbally agreed to 10 months ago. PPA owner Tom Dundon and MLP owner Steve Kuhn agreed to operate the combined league under the MLP brand name and format. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed at the time.
“I don’t know what Steve Kuhn’s intentions were all along,” PPA Tour CEO Conor Pardo told CNBC. “I don’t know if he led us down the road to getting to our players to try and be in a stronger position here later.”
Pardo claims that MLP executives have recently gone silent on the radio. He also said that some of its players have told the PPA that the MLP has begun reaching out with lucrative offers. He said the PPA would consider suing if the MLP improperly poached players.
Kuhn told CNBC that there are “many misrepresentations of reality,” without elaborating.
Thursday, announced MLP I started signing top players to guaranteed contacts for several years. The deals include an out-of-season player and enhanced financial security.
“We think this is a great thing that will make the MLP more valuable. So we will make players’ lives more successful and better. We will also continue to elevate the sport and help the sport grow,” said Kuhn.
He said that if the PPA is willing to pay players more money, he is willing to talk about compatibility with the league.
“We asked the PPA to join us in paying players more, and their reaction was that we were paying players too much,” Kuhn told CNBC.
In the past year, the MLP has seen continued growth with high-profile new ownership groups, increased team valuations, and new sponsorships and media deals. In July, MLP announced that Julio DePietro was Take over the CEO position. The negotiations for this deal were taken over by Zubin Mehta, who resigned from the board of directors.
The competing leagues had a complex relationship.
The PPA has historically been a tour-style league for the world’s best players. Two years ago, Cohn introduced Team Pickleball. Since then, the two leagues have operated independently.