Single-Elimination Hoops Tourney Opens To Small Crowds, Quality Play
The inaugural "The Basketball Tournament” takes place June 6-28 featuring 32 teams competing in a single-elimination, winner-takes-all format for a $500,000 prize, which at first “led to rampant skepticism,” according to Tim Casey of SPORTS ON EARTH. There was “no entry fee, and anyone 18 years or older could participate as long as they waived their college eligibility and amateur status.” However, teams were “required to attract at least 100 fans online to gain entrance.” They also were “encouraged to spread the word" about TBT through social media. The 24 teams that “gathered the most votes on the TBT website from March 4 to May 1 were automatically in the field,” and the event organizers “chose the final eight.” TBT Founder Jon Mugar and Commissioner Dan Friel presented a “five-page summary of their vision” for the tournament to “sports industry veterans who served as their advisors.” The group included Odgers Berndtson Managing Dir & Head of U.S. Sports Practice Andy Dolich, former ESPN and CBS Sports programming exec Len DeLuca and Kirmser Ponturo Group Partner Tony Ponturo. After receiving guidance from his advisors, Mugar decided late last year he would “launch TBT on a smaller scale.” A group of investors from Boston provided TBT with $1.5M in funding to “cover the $500,000 prize plus expenses.” TBT has “not drawn large crowds, but the participants and fans have been pleasantly surprised at the quality of play and the tournament's professionalism.” Approximately 2,000 people “purchased tickets” for the games played at Philadelphia University June 6-8. Mugar is “already planning ahead to next year.” He hopes to have “more teams involved and have a few regions similar to the NCAA tournament.” He also “anticipates a higher overall purse,” possibly $1M or more, which would be “shared among multiple teams” (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 6/13).