The Dink Pickleball

The Dink Pickleball Logo
Pickleball Lives Here

Results be Damned, MLP Auction Decides Premier Level teams

by The Dink Media Team on

BLQK Bears GM Jimmy Miller just dropped a bombshell over the weekend.

Miller tweeted last night, "24 MLP teams submitted blind bids for Premier. Top 12 bids were given Premier spots based on the 12th highest bid. The 12th highest bid was $400k. MLP essentially raised $4.8 million. The bottom 12 bids, are all in Challenger. You can still win your way in to Premier, in 2025."

This means:

  • That the previous plan re: eliminating Premier & Challenger in favor of one 24-team league is kaput
  • That MLP was able to creatively raise funds quickly before the start of the next season – something we can only assume was weighing heavy on their board of executives

Introducing: The Pickleball Box

The hottest accessories, gear, and equipment curated for the Pickleball addict and shipped directly to your door.

Subscribe Today

Results be Damned

The first half of the 2023 season was spent with teams fighting for a chance to make the cut for the Premier Level. Originally, the top finishers in 2023 would earn their spot in the top level.

That concept went away as a result of the tour wars battle between the PPA and MLP in August. The negotiations resulted in a joint schedule between the two organizations.

MLP and PPA Tour Release 2024 Combined Events Calendar
MLP/PPA combined 2024 calendar includes 34 combined & standalone events across 25 U.S. cities and 18 states.

According to Miller, they introduced a completely new plan. We are back to a 12-12 split between Challenger and Premier.

Results from 2023 be damned, spots in the Premier Level now belong to the highest bidders.

Earn a lifetime supply of paddles, balls and apparel: Vote here

The Value of Premier

This new experiment from MLP poses a number of new questions including:

  • Why would owners pay another fee when they're already in the league?

The premier level is where the best players in the world will play. They will have the premium broadcast opportunities and more exposure compared to the Challenger Level.

If a return will come for owners, it is going to come first and with the highest return for Premier Level teams. Those owners who chose to reinvest have either found success in 2023, have the strongest conviction that MLP will be a success or just don't blink an eye when writing a $400K+ check.

  • Why would owners not pay more to be in the exclusive Premier Level?

Owners who bought in later in the game have already paid a large sum for a team that is not bringing them income. Now they're asked to reinvest, in this case, $400k, with the hopes that it will turn into profit eventually.

There is also the opportunity to earn your way into the Premier Level. The league has plans for a promotion and relegation process that will allow teams to earn their way into the Premier Level for free. Teams that are confident they can win at the Challenger Level will have just saved $400K.

Tired of spending a fortune on cracked pickleballs? How about a 1-year warranty? Try the new Pro S1 ball from Selkirk - The New Pickleball Standard.

Down to the Wire

The dates for 2024 have already been set but there are still hundreds of decisions that need to be made before next year. The draft format has not been announced. Teams don't know if rosters will be expanded or remain the same.

Players don't know what team they are on or how teams will be decided. Each player will likely spend a good chunk of their year in the city of their MLP team. We're less than one month from the new year and players have no idea what city that will be.

A 12-12 split makes the league easier to manage. MLP can rely on a lot of the scheduling and format they used in 2023. If there were 24 teams all at the same level they would need to re-create what an MLP weekend looks like.

The losers of this decision have to be those teams that have earned their spot in the Premier Level but are now relegated to the Challenger Level based on the auction.

Most notably, the Socal Hard Eights, who have three Challenger Level titles, the Bay Area Breakers, who won two Challenger events, and the Chicago Slice, who won a Premier Level and Challenger Level Superfinal.

To follow along with all things MLP and receive tips to up your game subscribe to The Dink 3X weekly Newsletter.

Read more