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The New CEO AND COO OF MLP: Julio DePietro And Bruce Popko

The New CEO AND COO OF MLP: Major League Pickleball (MLP) showcases nearly 100 top-ranked professional players and influential team owners, making it a thrilling fixture in professional sports. The league comprises 22 hometown teams spread across two levels: Premier and Challenger.

MLP has recently appointed Julio DePietro as its Chief Executive Officer and Bruce Popko as Chief Operating Officer. This move comes as MLP seeks to capitalize on the rapid growth of pickleball, America’s fastest-growing sport at the professional level.

DePietro’s Strategic Impact and Financial Acumen

MLP founder Steve Kuhn hailed the appointments as a significant step forward in the league’s evolution. DePietro, a former partner at Citadel and owner of the Florida Smash MLP team, brings a wealth of finance and media experience to the helm. His investment in the Smash team has seen remarkable growth, with team valuations skyrocketing from as little as $100,000 to as much as $10 million.

The additions of Julio and Bruce signify another landmark step forward in the evolution of Major League Pickleball,” Mentioned MLP founder Steve Kuhn.

DePietro previously served as a partner at Citadel, collaborating closely with Kuhn over several years. His acquisition of a stake in the Florida Smash MLP team in 2022 was described as an effortless decision due to its potential. As he transitions into his new position, he plans to sell his stake in the Smash.


Driving Growth and Engagement in Major League Pickleball

The burgeoning sports league has drawn numerous prominent athlete owners and investors, among them NBA stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant, along with NFL legends Tom Brady and Drew Brees. Additionally, in November, beer giant Anheuser-Busch acquired a team within the league

Popko, with over 30 years in sports industry leadership roles, including positions at the Buffalo Bills and Pegula Sports & Entertainment, joins MLP to bolster sponsorships, media rights, and licensing strategies. He emphasizes the importance of direct fan engagement, citing it as a key driver for the league’s future success.

“One of the things that I’ve learned over the years in sports is that the most avid fans are those fans that participate in the sport directly, and that’s why I love this sport so much, because we have such a great running start,”

– ( Bruce Popko )

With pickleball boasting over 36 million participants last year, DePietro and Popko’s main challenge lies in converting casual fans into loyal MLP followers. The league has already attracted high-profile athlete owners like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees, along with investments from major companies such as Anheuser-Busch.

Media Strategy and Revenue Potential

Viewership for the sport has been steadily increasing. According to MLP, the Premier Level Super Final on June 19 attracted over 975,000 viewers on ESPN2. Additionally, MLP’s YouTube livestream channel has experienced a remarkable 500% increase in viewership compared to the previous year.

Looking ahead, MLP plans to expand its media presence and secure strategic broadcast partnerships to enhance viewership and fan accessibility. DePietro envisions untapped potential in advertising and subscription revenues, aiming to capitalize on the enthusiasm of both players and fans.

We have barely turned on any of the advertising knobs, much less the subscription knobs,” DePietro Mentioned. “We think there’s a massive opportunity to leverage a lot of the installed base, the excitement behind it, the avidity of the fans, of the players, and there’s tons of sponsorship and marketing opportunities for the league.”

DePietro mentioned: “They’re amazing athletes, some of them have incredible stories. Bringing the human element into it, I think, is going to be a huge part in driving viewers for us.

As MLP continues to ascend in popularity and prominence, DePietro and Popko are poised to steer the league towards becoming a cornerstone in professional sports, driven by pickleball’s widespread appeal and community engagement.

News in Brief: The New CEO AND COO OF MLP

Major League Pickleball (MLP) has appointed Julio DePietro as CEO and Bruce Popko as COO to spearhead its growth amidst pickleball’s surge in popularity. DePietro, formerly of Citadel and owner of the Florida Smash MLP team, brings extensive financial acumen, while Popko, with decades of sports leadership experience, focuses on enhancing sponsorships and media rights. The league, bolstered by high-profile athlete owners like LeBron James and Kevin Durant, aims to convert casual fans into loyal followers. MLP’s strategic focus on expanding media presence and revenue streams underscores its potential in the competitive sports landscape, set for continued growth and community engagement.

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