- Major League Pickleball (MLP) has named Margaritaville as title sponsor and introduced new branding as “MLP by Margaritaville,” according to news shared with Marketing Dive.
- The hospitality company founded by Jimmy Buffett will develop fan activations and immersive entertainment for the league. Margaritaville positioned itself as a “driving force” behind interest in the sport, with over 30 pickleball courts across its locations.
- Margaritaville has served as the title sponsor of the USA Pickleball National Championships since 2018 and is the official lodging partner of the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA). The tie-up follows MLP restructuring amid growing brand activity around the sport.
Margaritaville, which operates hotels, restaurants, retail stores and more, is shoring up an association with pickleball through the MLP partnership. The deal caps off a banner year for the paddle sport, which has seen an explosion of consumer interest and, following that trend, deeper investment from brands.
A press release stated that the title sponsorship is “one of the largest commercial deals ever” for the MLP, though financial terms were not disclosed. The Margaritaville announcement dropped ahead of the MLP Premier Level draft Thursday, which was broadcast on the Tennis Channel.
Margaritaville credits itself with creating traction for pickleball in travel and hospitality over the past five years. That’s in part thanks to over two dozen courts at its locations, including the Latitude Margaritaville active-living communities.
Along with its work with the PPA and national championship, the Jimmy Buffett brand has been a partner of pickleball’s U.S. Open in Naples, Florida, since 2017. There is also an official line of Margaritaville paddles and gear from the sports-equipment company Head.
“It’s exciting to be part of pickleball’s continued success and evolution, so we look forward to keeping the momentum going with Major League Pickleball and the league’s one-of-a-kind events and impressive collection of team owners, players, and executives,” said John Cohlan, CEO of Margaritaville, in a press statement.
MLP brings on a title sponsor as it implements a new league format for next year. Tweaks affect the organization’s promotion and relegation system and introduce expanded prize money of up to $5 million.
Pickleball today is viewed as one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S., with nearly double the number of players from five years ago. A large portion of the game’s millions of enthusiasts are over 65, according to industry findings cited in NPR.
As venues struggle to keep up with surging demand, the sport has won favor with big-name advertisers. Anheuser-Busch InBev, a major sponsor of the NFL and events like the FIFA World Cup, last month acquired an MLP team starting with the 2023 season and secured a founding partnership with the MLP. Vizzy, a beverage owned by rival Molson Coors, earlier became the official hard seltzer of the PPA tour.