ST. LOUIS – The professional sports landscape continues to grow in St. Louis, this time around in the form of pickleball.
Major League Pickleball announced Thursday that two new teams are entering the league. That includes the St. Louis Shock and the Orlando Squeeze. Both teams will officially join the league ahead of the upcoming 2023 season.
The St. Louis Shock ownership group will be led by renowned business leader and philanthropist, Richard Chaifetz. His son, Ross Chaifetz, will also be actively involved in team management. The Chaifetz family is well-known for their naming rights at Saint Louis University’s basketball arena and donations to the university.
“St. Louis is a community that has always been passionate about its sports teams and we are thrilled to bring a Major League Pickleball team to St. Louis,” said St. Louis Shock owner Richard Chaifetz. “Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country, by far, and we look forward to contributing to its growth and the league’s development for years to come.”
The St. Louis Shock will start their season in the “Premier Level” while the Orlando Squeeze will start in the “Challenger Level,” per MLP.
“We are pleased to announce the expansion of MLP’s footprint with the formation of the St. Louis and Orlando teams, and are grateful for the support of our new corporate sponsors,” said Brian Levine, Interim CEO of Major League Pickleball. “Establishing these partnerships ahead of the upcoming transformative season will be instrumental in our continued efforts to grow the sport and provide a world-class live experience for fans. We’re also so excited for the tournament to reach more fans with every single match streamed live and the Premier Level semifinals and finals aired live on the Tennis Channel.”
The 2023 MLP season kicks off on January 26-29 in Mesa, Arizona. All 24 teams across the MLP Premier and Challenger levels will compete.
For the first time, MLP competitions will be broadcast live on the Tennis Channel with the Premier Level semifinals and finals as well as the Challenger Level final. Both of the Premier Level semifinals, the Premier Level finals and the Challenger Level finals will also be streamed on the MLP website, MLP’s social media channels and the T2 & TC App/TC.com streaming services.
According to the announcement, NFL star, Odell Beckham Jr. has joined the ownership group for the D.C. Pickleball Team.