The New York Yankees are buying a stake in a three-year old touring circuit of a fast-growing, tennis-like racquet sport. Not pickleball, but padel.
Yankee Global Enterprises, the Steinbrenner family-owned holding company, has signed a preliminary term sheet to buy an equity stake in A1 Padel, a pro tour founded in 2020 by Fabrice Pastor, a Monte Carlo-based businessman who champions the game. Details of the investment were not disclosed.
“Padel is growing rapidly, and A1 Padel is producing high-quality, dynamic events for players, fans and sponsors, and there is remarkable opportunity for sustained expansion,” Yankees president Randy Levine said in a press release announcing the deal.
Like pickleball, padel is a game conceived in the 1960s that is similar in many ways to tennis, but played on a smaller court, among other differences. Padel’s court, about one-third the size of a tennis court, is enclosed, and balls can be played off the walls, as in racquetball. According to a 2022 CNN story, there are 25 million players worldwide, and it’s especially popular in Europe. Spain leads the way with 6 million players and 20,000 courts, and enthusiasts include soccer stars Lionel Messi and Mo Salah, according to Esquire.
A1 Padel was started by Pastor with the Continental American Padel Federation to grow the sport in the U.S. and eventually get the game included in the Olympics. A1 held games in 14 cities across 11 countries last year under its former name, APT Padel Tour. The rebranded circuit plans to hold events in 17 countries this year, according to the release.
“As more players and fans embrace padel, we have big plans for the sport and our circuit,” Pastor said in the release. “There is no better partner in sports than the New York Yankees and Yankee Global Enterprises, and we are thrilled to have their excellence in developing, producing and marketing our content.”
Last year, Ike S. Franco, a minority owner of the Yankees and founder of sports- and consumer-goods focused Infinity Global Brands, bought an equity stake in A1 Padel.