Pickleball.com launches for fans, pros and it’s backed by a Dallas billionaire

With backing from Dallas billionaire Tom Dundon, a one-stop website capitalizing on the nation’s pickleball craze launched Friday with a goal of uniting everyone from beginners to pros.

Pickleball.com will help casual players pick a paddle or find a local court, while also giving more serious fans live coverage of the Professional Pickleball Association. Dundon, owner of the Carolina Hurricanes NHL team and an avid pickleball player, is backing it through his Dundon Capital Partners firm.

“The incredible growth and interest in pickleball will drive us to keep investing in premier resources for players, clubs, media and content providers,” Dundon said in a statement.

The website will gather data and content from companies such as the PPA Tour, Pickleball Tournaments and Pickleball Brackets, TopCourt and Pickleball Central.

Last year, Dundon’s firm made a majority investment in Pickleball Central, an e-commerce platform, and equipment maker Pickle-Ball Inc. The firm also acquired a majority stake in the Professional Pickleball Association this year.

Amateur pickleball players participate in mixed doubles matches during the Professional Pickleball Association Baird Wealth Management Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Ohio. (Photo for The Washington Post by Arden S. Barnes.)(Arden S. Barnes / For The Washington Post)

Dundon is known in recent years for his sports investments.

His career began by building a pioneering company that provided auto loans to buyers with marginal credit, a business concept that became a spectacular success. When he stepped away from Santander Holdings USA in 2015, he started his own investment firm.

In 2017, he bought the Carolina Hurricanes. Forbes estimates the team’s value has risen from $420 million to $550 million under his ownership.

Two years later, he committed to pumping $250 million into the Alliance of American Football, but the professional league shut down six weeks later. Dundon reportedly had put as much as $75 million of his total commitment into the league, but was funding it week-to-week, according to multiple news reports at the time.

He also was an early investor in Topgolf, which merged with golf equipment and apparel brand Callaway in 2021 in a $2.6 billion deal.

Pickleball has grown quickly in popularity, with an estimated 4.8 million players in the US last year. The Sports and Fitness Industry Association said participation grew nearly 15% from 2020 to 2021 and over 21% the year before that.

About 3.5 million of last year’s players were considered casual participants who took to the court less than seven times a year.

“The gravitational pull of the sport made this an epic opportunity,” said Connor Pardoe, CEO and commissioner of the Professional Pickleball Association Tour, in a statement. “The PPA is thrilled to combine with these other leading entities to provide the joy of pickleball for fans of the pro game and the amateur tournament players who want to play where the pros play.”

That excitement is attracting other investors besides Dundon, too.

Hedge-fund manager Steven Kuhn founded Major League Pickleball in 2021, backed by investors including Drew Brees, James Blake and Gary Vaynerchuk, according to the Washington Post.

Pickleball is no stranger to Dallas-Fort Worth. In June, Southlake announced plans to build a $3.4 million pickleball complex, calling it the “Taj Mahal of pickleball.”

Chicken N Pickle, a restaurant and pickleball court concept, has six locations throughout the South and Midwest, including one in Grand Prairie and another in San Antonio. In May, the company broke ground on its second North Texas location in Grapevine.

The Dundon-backed pickleball.com site will fully launch in January with a tournament platform, ratings, league and ladder management, expanded new player resources, court scheduling and amateur highlights.

Players can sign up on the site for a free account to get updates, including the pickleball.com mobile app launching later in October.

Chicken N Pickle opening second North Texas location in Grapevine

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