Jean-Luc Baldelli, the promoter of the Betclic tournament Premier Padel Bordeaux P2, looks back on the first edition of the tournament, discussing its genesis, the fragility of the economic model and the absence of top players.

From architect to developer Premier Padel

Me, I don't come from the world of padel, or even tennis. My journey is completely different. Originally, I was an architect and business manager, at the head of a group of four agencies. I discovered the padel as a hobby during confinement in 2020. Very quickly, I fell in love with this sport. THE padel being a small world, I quickly met many people and I wanted to give more meaning to this practice which, for me, was initially very recreational. My first step was to create a league of entrepreneurs in Bordeaux. The objective was to meet, to share this passion, and to give a competitive and sporting dimension to our games.

Then I became a partner of the Big Padel by sponsoring the central field. I also domiciled my league there. That’s when I met Jean-Thomas Peyrou. He asked me to become a sponsor of the FIP RISE which took place last year in Bordeaux. This tournament was a success, which gave us the desire to do even better and bigger.

trophy premier padel Bordeaux

We then considered launching into something more ambitious. At that time, there were two circuits: the World Padel Tour and Premier Padel. We felt that the future lay on the side of Premier Padel, although this was not yet certain at that time. With Jean-Thomas, we made contact with Qatar Sports Investments and with the Arkéa Arena to discuss the possibility of organizing a major tournament in Bordeaux.

The results of the tournament

Since I don't come from the middle of padel, I brought an entrepreneurial vision to the tournament. Jean-Thomas brought all his sporting expertise and his knowledge of the constraints specific to the padel. Then, we built a solid team with the arrival of Michaël Llodra as a partner, as well as Fabien Stut and Cyril Gaillard.

Today, the results of this tournament are extremely positive. The event was well designed, very aesthetic and went off without a hitch. The attendance exceeded our expectations, with more than 16 tickets sold for this first edition. One of the most positive points is that the human organization worked very well despite the challenges. We worked with volunteers, technicians, we formed a team of more than 000 people on a daily basis, and the coordination was excellent.

The partners are also very satisfied. THE padel of very high level has succeeded in attracting a wide audience, from 7 to 77 years old: men, women, children. The show really captivated the spectators. This proves that there was a real demand for this type of event in Bordeaux, and it is extremely encouraging for the future.

Coki-Nieto-Jon-Sanz-Bordeaux-P2

The absence of top players

This had an impact on ticket sales and we were very disappointed not to keep our promises. However, I think we quickly managed to turn the page, which is the great strength of this tournament. We no longer talked about the absentees and we almost forgot they weren't there. The proposed show was almost equivalent to what it would have been if the Top 8 had been present.

We still had 40 players from the world Top 50, so the level remained very high. Even though these absences were disappointing, we were able to cope and offer a quality tournament. We hope to have these players from the next edition and are seeking guarantees of their presence. But we showed that we could do very well without them.

A fragile economic model

I believe our main objective today is to take stock. On a sporting and human level, the results are excellent. On the other hand, the economic results remain to be determined. We still have a lot of data to analyze to understand where exactly we stand. We knew from the start that this economic model was fragile, and this could be the negative point of this tournament: it risks not being balanced. This opens up a lot of thoughts. We were prepared for this risk, because we made a long-term commitment, with the objective of reaching balance after two or three editions. It is therefore crucial to bear this risk consciously.

One of the main questions concerns the schedule. We need to position ourselves at a more strategic time of the season. This year we were at a disadvantage with the schedule: P2 took place just after a South American tour and just before a Grand Chelem outdoors, while our tournament is indoors. We are currently working with Premier Padel to reposition this tournament at a better time of the year.

burgundy track premier padel

The move to P1 is a real reflection, but it makes the economic model even more fragile. A P1 implies increased prize money and more demanding specifications, which represents many new constraints for us as organizers. We're not yet sure we want to go in this direction. What we are looking for are guarantees regarding the presence of the top players. Currently, the top players have participated to all P2s except that of Bordeaux. There is therefore a problem to be resolved at this level, and we are working on it with Premier Padel.

A change of location for the next edition?

There are certainly other aspects to improve. Once we have readjusted the date, the second important consideration concerns the location. We are currently investigating this possibility. Nothing stops us from changing sites. This could mean changing venues or even cities. We are currently exploring different avenues and venues to determine whether the next edition will be held at the Arkéa Arena or elsewhere.

Changing location must really be considered with a view to improving the event: it is to make it even better. As an organizer, you cannot perform well on many criteria and be in economic difficulty. So, the objective is to improve all aspects, including the economic aspect, to ensure the sustainability and success of the tournament.

What date for the 2nd edition of the tournament?

We don't yet have a precise idea of ​​the date of the second edition because everything is interconnected, it's a domino effect. A given location determines potential dates, but the tour Premier Padel gives us ideal dates that may not be compatible with the locations we have considered. Everything is very linked.

This equation must be balanced taking into account optimal positioning on the calendar. We must also consider the French sporting calendar, with Roland-Garros, the Top 14 with its final and semi-final phases, and the Tour de France. The calendar Premier Padel does not always take these French deadlines into account. The Majors, like Rome and Roland-Garros, will position themselves first, and then we will have to find a relevant date.

A date too late in the summer period is also not ideal, because partners are not really interested in hospitality or after-work events in the middle of July or August. We will probably keep a spring positioning, around May or June.

We will try to do as well, or even better, for the second edition. The feedback we have received so far is unanimous. The players are very happy, we have received messages from some of them, as well as a lot of positive feedback from spectators, players and partners. The feedback is very encouraging.

Dorian Massy

New follower of padel, I am fascinated by this dynamic sport which combines strategy and agility. I find in the padel a new passion to explore and share with you on Padel Magazine.