Major League Pickleball has been dropping name after name over the past two months. Their 2023 expansion has included Kevin Durant, Tom Brady and Lebron James. Three of the biggest names in American sports. The fourth and final team in the expansion will belong to, the world's largest brewing company Anheuser Busch.
Anheuser Busch, the company supplying Budweiser, Bud Light, and dozens of other beers throughout the world is now a team owner in Major League Pickleball. This addition does not bring the same pop as the Brady and James news, but it does supply something MLP will need in 2023: a whole lot of beer.
The name of the game is live sporting events. One thing you see at every major sporting event is beer. Anheuser Busch has more experience than any other brand when it comes to this relationship.
The brewing company owned the St. Louis Cardinals from 1953 to 1996 and still maintains the naming rights to Busch Stadium. Anheuser Busch is also known for creating some of the most iconic commercials in Super Bowl history.
There it is, the expansion is complete. Now all of the focus moves to the draft and teams preparing for the 2023 season. The first event is in January of next year. For more see the press release below.
Full Press Release from MLP
ANHEUSER-BUSCH REIMAGINES SPORTS MARKETING WITH PURCHASE OF MAJOR LEAGUE PICKLEBALL TEAM
America’s leading brewer enters ownership space in new Major League Pickleball expansion team for 2023 season
NEW YORK, New York (November 8, 2022) – Anheuser-Busch, one of the largest and most influential sport sponsors in the U.S., is building on its commitment to bringing fans closer to the sports they love with the purchase of a Major League Pickleball (MLP) team starting for the 2023 season.
“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.”
In this unique ownership model, Anheuser-Busch will be able to build meaningful connections with fans like never before, unlocking new opportunities for growth and creativity. This agreement will give Anheuser-Busch a founding partnership with the larger MLP league and control over one of the league’s expansion teams – with ownership over everything from who the team drafts to which sponsors they bring on to support. Additionally, the partnership will extend to the DUPR rating, which is the most accurate and only global pickleball rating system across all recreational and pro players– allowing the company and its brands to tap into the growing population of recreational players and DUPR events around the country.
Today's announcement builds on Anheuser-Busch's history of innovation in sports marketing. In 2018, the company launched a revolutionary incentive-based sponsorship model building in metrics like team performance, playoff appearance, and digital platforms supporting fan engagement into sponsorship agreements. Moving forward, this Sponsorship Equity model will be a consideration for emerging sports – bringing sponsorship, marketing, and scale to a league or team’s overall success.
“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.”
Anheuser-Busch joins an elite company of team owners, including athletes such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Kim Clijsters; famed lecturer and research professor Brené Brown; and co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks Marc Lasry.
With the purchase of this new team, 2023 will be MLP’s largest year since its creation. The league grows from 12 to 16 teams, doubles events from three to six, and increases player prize money and payouts to more than $2M.
About Major League Pickleball
Major League Pickleball (MLP) is the first-of-its-kind professional team league and the standard-bearer for the fastest-growing sport in the United States. Led by Founder & CEO Steve Kuhn, MLP is committed to perpetuating the sport's larger role in society and permeating every facet of pickleball’s business, marketing, and community relations. With iconic team owners, a co-ed team format, an innovative draft, easy to understand scoring, groundbreaking broadcast quality, and the highest prize money events in pro pickleball, MLP’s goal is to elevate and grow the sport in everything it does. For more information on Major League Pickleball, visit MajorLeaguePickleball.net and follow Major League Pickleball on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
At Anheuser-Busch, our purpose is to create a future with more cheers. We are always looking to serve up new ways to meet life's moments, dream big to move our industry forward, and make a meaningful impact in the world. We hope to build a future that everyone can celebrate, and everyone can share. For more than 160 years, Anheuser-Busch has carried on a legacy of brewing great-tasting, high-quality beers that have satisfied beer drinkers for generations. Today, we own and operate more than 120 facilities, including breweries, wholesaler distribution centers, agricultural facilities and packaging plants, and have more than 19,000 colleagues across the United States. We are home to several of America's most loved beer and beyond beer brands, including Michelob ULTRA, Cutwater Spirits, Stella Artois, Budweiser and Bud Light as well as a number of regional brands that provide beer drinkers with a choice of the best-tasting craft beers in the industry. From responsible drinking programs and emergency drinking water donations to industry-leading sustainability efforts, we are guided by our unwavering commitment to supporting the communities we call home. For more information, visit. For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com or follow Anheuser-Busch on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.