Larry Fitzgerald’s passion for pickleball leads to ownership of AZ Drive team

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By Jacob Jackson

Scottsdale, AZ – Larry Fitzgerald, former star wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, has taken his passion for pickleball to the next level by becoming part owner of the AZ Drive, a professional pickleball team competing in the 2023 Pickleball League (PDL) season. Fitzgerald was first introduced to pickleball a few years ago and instantly fell in love with the fast-paced, exciting sport. His competitive nature and appreciation of pickleball led him to invest in bringing a professional team to Arizona.

Fitzgerald Excited to Help Elevate AZ Drive

I’ve been following pickleball closely for the last couple of years and have seen firsthand how quickly it’s growing,” Fitzgerald said at a press conference announcing his ownership stake. “The creativity, athleticism, and competition in this sport are incredible. I’m excited to help elevate the AZ Drive this season and introduce more fans in Arizona to the fun of pickleball.

Larry Fitzgerald’s
Cronkite News – Arizona PBS

AZ Drive Positioned for Playoff Run

The AZ Drive will be entering its second season in the PDL in 2023. After being competitive last year but falling short of making the playoffs, the Drive made some key acquisitions in the offseason to strengthen their roster.

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Key Roster Additions

They brought on pickleball pro-Simon Vasquez, a rising young player known for his speed and net play. They also added Cecilia Orozco, one of the top female pickleball players in the country. Fitzgerald’s star power and resources, along with key additions, position the Drive for a strong PDL championship run this season.

Hands-On Involvement with Team

Fitzgerald’s involvement with the AZ Drive goes beyond just financial investment. In his role as part owner, he’ll actively engage with the team, leveraging his status to raise pickleball awareness and connect with the Arizona community.

Engaged as New Season Kicks Off

He plans on being highly engaged as the new season kicks off in a few months. “I’ll be at home games cheering the team on,” Fitzgerald stated. “I’m going to be engaged with the players, the coaches, and the broader organization to help make this the best possible experience for fans and build enthusiasm for pickleball here in the Valley. My competitive spirit is looking forward to playoff games later this summer!

Larry Fitzgerald’s PIckleball

Leveraging Relationships to Expand Reach

The ex-NFL star wide receiver sees significant growth potential in pickleball, noting a fourfold increase in players to nearly 5 million over the past five years. As owner of the AZ Drive, he will leverage his business relationships and community connections to expand the team’s reach.

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Aggressive Growth Plans

Plans are already underway for more aggressive marketing campaigns, strategic partnerships, and special events for the 2023 season.

Passion for Competition and Community

Pickleball is more than just a sport people play casually at a community center. Its competitive scene is exploding,” said Fitzgerald. “Between Pickleball League tournaments becoming must-see TV to over $2 million in prize money up for grabs on the pro circuits, you’re seeing world-class athleticism on display. The AZ Drive has a real shot to be one of the top teams in PDL this season, and I can’t wait to see us competing for a championship.

Beyond the AZ Drive and his passion for pickleball, Fitzgerald continues to be highly involved with philanthropic efforts across Arizona.

Committed to Community Service

His First Down Fund has provided millions in funding for youth services and education initiatives. As part owner of the Drive, he aims to use the team as another avenue to give back to communities around the state.

AZ Drive

I want the AZ Drive organization to be a force for good and make a positive difference with youth in the area,” Fitzgerald commented. “We’re going to provide opportunities for kids to learn the game directly from our players and coaches. And we plan on having the team engaged with nonprofits and charitable events as much as possible.

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Excitement Building for 2023 Season

The AZ Drive 2023 season starts in May at Dream City Church in Phoenix, their official home venue. Season tickets are already on sale for fans interested in experiencing the excitement of professional pickleball. Fitzgerald and the AZ Drive organization plan on putting together a competitive lineup, providing world-class entertainment, and showcasing what a special community asset having a pro pickleball team can be.

I can’t wait to see the AZ Drive on the court this season making Arizona proud,” said an enthusiastic Fitzgerald. “The skill, strategy, and athleticism these pros display is going to open a lot of eyes to how incredible this sport is. I believe incredible things are in store for our team this year!

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