Does New PPA Ownership Mean New Player Contracts?

Authored by Slim

We just posted an article we already had in final draft form that we initially planned to post today before we got more information about the Tom Dundon situation. We have still posted what we drafted in its original form linked above even though it has some outdated information because the content has even more pertinence with Tom Dundon’s purchase of the PPA – Slim went in-depth on appearance fees and their impact on pro pickleball. In case you are not aware, last night we broke the news that Tom Dundon (probably more accurately Dundon Capital Partners LLC) was purchasing the PPA as well as Pickleball Central and Pickleball Tournaments.

What is coming to light now for the PPA is that with the new ownership, has reportedly come new contracts presented to the 2022 contracted PPA tour players. While at least 22 players had agreed to 1-year mostly exclusive contracts, our understanding is that what has been presented to the players (and already signed by some) are 3 year contracts that contain very strict exclusivity agreement for players that limit them to playing PPA events only, and they must request written consent from the PPA to play any other event, which may be withheld at the PPA’s sole discretion. Needless to say, these are extremely limiting terms for the plays that substantially affect their future earnings ceiling.

UPDATE (4:10 pm EST): We have received further information that the new contracts being presented to players to replace their current one-year deals in place include provisions for a more performance-centric appearance fee that would be based on their rankings. Our understanding is that the appearance money is fairly top heavy but it would guarantee at least some money to players outside the top few. In addition, the exclusivity language restricts players to PPA Tournaments and related events and appearances, and any participation outside of that requires PPA approval on a case-by-case basis. It is not clear to us right now what requires approval beyond tournaments, but this could severely limit earning power of players, particularly if it they can’t run clinics without asking the PPA first.

One other thought we had that is purely our speculation and guesswork is the possibility that a large portion of the purchase price is tied to the number of players who sign the new agreements. This is fairly common in commercial deals, and we would not be surprised if this is a big reason for the pressure put on players from the previous regime to sign new contracts.

In our original post, in support of why players should take appearance fees we had pointed out that they were 1-year agreements, so players were not locking themselves into the exclusivity agreements (which were much less limiting) for very long. 3 years is a long time for one to link their ability to earn a living to one organization, and if you aren’t going to be a regular podium presence you are very likely significantly reducing your earning potential. We would hope that all players get proper professional advice (legal and other) before signing such agreements, but from what we have heard this is likely not happening, which is likely a problem for them, and could lead to a real mess down the road.

Our two cents, on this, is that the purchase of the PPA is an attempt to purchase the top players in the game in order to be able to leverage them to sell other parts of the business. If I were a player, I would be very apprehensive about being used in this manner, and I would really want to push back on these terms, and understand that the tour needs the top players as badly as the players need the tour, but from what our sources tell us, this is not currently happening. This also seems to be a further and more concerted effort by the PPA, to put the APP out of business by cornering the market of top players. This has often appeared to be their motive, but it now looks like a much more clear cut and cutthroat effort to do so.

Random Thought: One other question on this whole deal is whether the sale by the Pardoe’s, at least in part driven by the creation of MLP? The Pardoe’s had been throwing around their money in an attempt to become the premier organization in pickleball, but with the creation of the MLP and the billionaires club that came with it, it was clear that they no longer had the deepest pockets in the sport, so did they go looking for a billionaire of their own?

Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below or email us at

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