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Major League Pickleball Outlines 2023 Promotion and Relegation Format

by The Dink Media Team on

Just in the nick of time, more details outlining 2023 have been released by Major League Pickleball. The year will serve as another experiment in the grand scheme of MLP.

This year will consist of two seasons where teams will play one season in the Premier League and one in the Challenger League. The top 12 teams at the end of the year based on record will make up the Premier League for next season.

Season five of MLP runs from January through June 2022. There is a redraft scheduled for after the season five championship in June. So all of the teams will have a brand new look halfway through the year. Season six will run July through December with the season six championship scheduled for Dec 11. Then again heading into 2024.

This is probably the most democratic way to get new owners' feet wet and establish how the league will work. A smart move for the long term but unfortunate in the short term as players and teams will again go through more shuffling and kind of inconsequential championships in 2023.

Prizes for the league will top $5 million which adds a lot more significance for the players involved. Those that have grabbed a gold card will receive appearance fees and 2x prize money for any winnings in MLP and the PPA Tour. Read last month's release to learn more about the gold and silver card offerings.

2023 Schedule

  • Jan. 26-29 – Mesa, AZ – Legacy Sports USA
  • March 23-26 – Daytona Beach, FL – Pictona at Holly Hill
  • June 15-18 – San Clemente, CA – Life Time Rancho San Clemente
  • Season One Championship: Monday night, June 19

Re-draft, all teams move from Premier to Challenger and vice versa.

  • Sept. 21-24 – Atlanta, GA – Life Time Peachtree Corners
  • Nov. 2-5 – La Quinta, CA – La Quinta Resort & Club
  • Dec. 7-10 – San Clemente, CA – Life Time Rancho San Clemente
  • Season Two Championship: Monday night, December 11

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More Changes

  • The league also appointed a new interim CEO, senior pro player and former partner at Goldman Sachs, Brian Levine. Levine will be responsible for building the executive team for the league.
  • A schedule update added Pictona in Holly Hill, FL as the location for the March 23-26 event.
  • The draft reveal will be broadcasted live on the Tennis at 9pm ET on Thursday Dec 15.

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Full Press Release


MAJOR LEAGUE PICKLEBALL UNVEILS DYNAMIC LEAGUE FORMAT FOR 2023 INCLUDING:
24 TEAMS FEATURING HIGH PROFILE OWNERSHIP GROUPS, TWO SEASONS WITH MAJOR EVENTS ACROSS THE U.S., AND A PROMOTION AND RELEGATION SYSTEM

MLP will be the first major American professional sports league to implement a promotion and relegation system by introducing top-tier MLP Premier Level and upstart MLP Challenger Level with teams competing in two 3-event seasons to solidify their spot in the top Level

AUSTIN, TX., Dec. 12, 2022 – The 2023 Major League Pickleball (MLP) calendar has been released, featuring six events across Arizona, California, Florida, and Georgia. The year will be divided into two “seasons” of three events – in the first season, 12 teams will compete in the MLP Premier Level (the first 48 drafted players) and 12 will compete in the MLP Challenger Level (the next 48 drafted players), with rosters consisting of two men and two women. The teams will then flip levels and re-draft players for the second season. With the expansion to 24 teams, MLP is offering up to $5 million in prize money and payouts to its players in 2023.

Additionally, Brian Levine, who spent 25 years at Goldman Sachs, including 13 years as Partner, has stepped in to serve as Interim CEO of MLP, working with the current leadership team in the search for a permanent CEO and world class C-suite executive team.

"I’m honored to take the helm of Major League Pickleball and lead our fantastic organization through this transformative period,” said Levine. “With the explosive growth of this sport, we've witnessed the remarkable positive impact pickleball has had in creating a vibrant community, bonding people from all walks of life. I am extraordinarily excited to continue to innovate how we bring this sport to more people around the world.”

The stops for 2023 Major League Pickleball seasons are:

  • Jan. 26-29 – Mesa, AZ – Legacy Sports USA
  • March 23-26 – Daytona Beach, FL – Pictona at Holly Hill
  • June 15-18 – San Clemente, CA – Life Time Rancho San Clemente
  • Season One Championship: Monday night, June 19

  • Sept. 21-24 – Atlanta, GA – Life Time Peachtree Corners
  • Nov. 2-5 – La Quinta, CA – La Quinta Resort & Club
  • Dec. 7-10 – San Clemente, CA – Life Time Rancho San Clemente
  • Season Two Championship: Monday night, December 11

MLP partner Life Time (NYSE: LTH), the country’s largest owner and operator of dedicated pickleball courts, will play host for each season’s Championship at their spectacular Life Time Rancho San Clemente athletic club in California. The Championships will feature the top two teams of the season in each level battling to claim the title.

“We’ve been growing MLP for just over a year and 2023 is going to be the year where we establish ourselves as a serious professional league with the best players, ownership, and events,” said MLP Founder and Chairman Steve Kuhn.  “We’ve expanded from eight teams and one event in 2021 to an astounding 24 teams, six events and up to $5 million in prize money and payouts in 2023. Next year will be chock-full of exciting matches, dramatic storylines, beautiful venues, and memorable moments.”

The draft for the first season will take place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas this Thursday, December 15th and air on the Tennis Channel at 9:00 p.m. EST. Teams placed in the MLP Premier Level will draft first and will announce their rosters that evening. The MLP Challenger Level rosters will be revealed in the subsequent days on MLP social channels. There will be a redraft in July after the conclusion of the first season, where the teams will choose their rosters and compete in the opposite MLP Level.

Results for the 2023 year across both seasons and Levels will place the Top 12 performing teams into the higher-tier MLP Premier Level and the Bottom 12 performing teams into the up-and-comer MLP Challenger Level for 2024, with a promotion and relegation system in place to allow for team mobility.

“The division into the MLP Premier Level and MLP Challenger Level will ensure the highest caliber of competition while providing a pathway and opportunities for the next generation of pro pickleball stars to break through,” said MLP President and Commissioner Brooks Wiley. “Next year will be an exciting year of team competition that will set MLP up for long-term success with this strategic format.”

The remaining team ownership groups as well as the 2023 team names and geographical affiliations will be released in the days leading up to next week’s draft.

For more information on Major League Pickleball, visit MajorLeaguePickleball.net and follow Major League Pickleball on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

About Major League Pickleball

Major League Pickleball (MLP) is the premier team league and the standard-bearer for the fastest-growing sport in the United States. 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.

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