Minnesota Sports Franchises Investing In Future Of Esports
The T'Wolves, along with Minnesota United and the owners of the Vikings, have "plunged into professional video games," betting they will "reach new fans and appeal to sponsors just as their real-life teams do," according to Matthew Niksa of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Minnesota United "moved into the virtual world first," when MLS last year started eMLS. Minnesota United Exec VP & CRO Bryant Pfeiffer said, "MLS fans spend as much time gaming on a weekly basis as they do on social media. It’s a chance to grow our fan base at a faster pace.” Meanwhile, Vikings Owners Zygi and Mark Wilf "see long-term potential" in esports, including a possible "arena in their Vikings Lakes development" in Eagan, Minn. The effort to "attract sponsors has already begun." The T'Wolves "remodeled a marketing center on the second floor of Mayo Clinic Square," as a "training facility for T-Wolves Gaming," the franchise's NBA 2K League affiliate. Players and computers "sit on a round stage with video monitors above and around them, visible to 12,000 people passing in the skyway each day." The team "spent $500,000 to build it." In doing so, the T'Wolves "forged partnership deals with Dell’s Alienware, HyperX, Scuf Gaming, Raynor Group and the Minnesota Lottery." On Aug. 4, T-Wolves Gaming beat 76ers Gaming Club three games to two to "take the title" as NBA 2K League champions. T'Wolves Chief Strategy Officer Ted Johnson said that he "hopes T-Wolves Gaming’s success will attract more fans and sponsors" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/27).
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