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.