Things are starting to heat up for the National Pickleball League (NPL) as the league gets ready for its inaugural pro draft this April. The Naples Pickleball Center (NPC) just signed an agreement with the NPL to purchase one of the league’s new franchise teams.
The NPL is the first professional Champions Division (50+) league, and will consist of six teams made up of 12 to 20 pro players from all across the nation. All NPL teams will participate in 5 competition events across America starting in June, which will then lead to a championship tournament event in mid-October.
Yesterday, the Naples Pickleball Center, frequently referred to as the Pickleball Capital of the World, signed a team ownership deal with the NPL. The new team, Naples JBB United, will be based in the NPC’s hometown of Naples, FL.
This makes the NPC one of the first founding team owners for the NPL, marking a huge step forward for the league as they near the start of the 2023 season.
In yesterday’s press release, NPL Co-Founder Michael Chen reflected on how excited they are to partner with NPC. Known for being one of the nation’s premiere pickleball facilities with 80 dedicated courts, the NPC is also home to the annual Minto US Open Pickleball Championships.
“The game of pickleball has grown exponentially over the last two years, and NPC’s excitement to be one of the founding team owners of NPL is true validation that there is clear demand for team competition at the Champions Professional level.”Michael Chen, Co-Founder of the National Pickleball League
This exciting new partnership between the NPL and NPC comes just in time before the NPL’s big Draft Combine event. The 2023 NPL Draft Combine is a weekend long event, March 24-26, that allows interested players a chance at earning a guaranteed spot on an NPL team.
NPL has also recently teamed up with Chicken N Pickle, a popular pickleball and entertainment franchise that has facilities across the nation. Not only will the 2023 Draft Combine be held at the facility in Oklahoma, but the entire 2023 NPL season will take place at Chicken N Pickle venues all over the nation.
After the teams compete in the 5 main regular-season tournaments, they will meet for a final championship weekend at Chicken N Pickle’s brand new Glendale, AZ facility to compete for the $100,000 purse.
The future of the NPL is bright, and we are eager to see which pros are drafted to the newly founded Naples JBB United in the upcoming draft. Since the Champions Division is filled with many of pickleball’s greatest athletes, the NPL is bound to see some incredible teams and on-court matchups.
Qualified players who are interested in participating in the league can register for both the combine and draft at the NPL’s website. Stay tuned for more updates about the NPL here at Pickleball Union as we get closer and closer to draft day!
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