Big3 back with bigger markets, broader schedule
The Big3 enters its second season with a schedule that features seven new markets as the startup 3-on-3 basketball league looks to draw more fans from last year’s inaugural season, which averaged 11,500 fans per game.
New Big3 markets this year include Houston, Atlanta, Miami, Detroit, Boston, Oakland and Toronto, with New York, Chicago and Dallas returning. Games held last year in Philadelphia; Charlotte; Tulsa, Okla.; Lexington, Ky.; and Las Vegas are not returning to the league.
The eight-team league, which features former NBA stars, tips off June 22 in Houston at the Toyota Center.
“A lot of markets are based on where people reached out to us and were very aggressive about wanting us,” said Jeff Kwatinetz, who co-founded the Big3 along with rapper Ice Cube. “Last year we were selling a concept and a lot of people underestimated what we were doing. This year, we were virtually able to go where the best demand was.”
Kwatinetz would not disclose specific ticket sales for the upcoming season, but said he expects the league to surpass last year’s attendance.
Last year, the two biggest stops for the league were at the American Airlines Center in Dallas and at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn where both events drew about 15,000 fans.
Another major change this season for the league is the addition of live broadcasts of the games on Fox and FS1. Unlike last season, where the games were taped and shown on Sundays, four events of the 10-week schedule this season will be shown live on Fox on Friday nights, with the six other weeks of the schedule to be shown on FS1 also on Friday nights. Fox has paid an undisclosed rights fee to the Big3 for the programming.
“We are simply growing upon what we started last year,” said Amy Trask, chief executive officer of the Big3. “We will be broadcast in 36 countries and the games are going to be on prime time and live.”
Adidas this year is the league’s newest sponsor with a three-year, $15 million deal that makes the company the official outfitter of the Big3. Adidas will activate in each market with a “Young3” grassroots youth initiative designed to get more people to play 3-on-3 basketball.
Other sponsors are expected to be added this season, league officials said.
“We’ve talked to eight or nine different partners and are hopeful for some to come on board,” said Big3 Commissioner Clyde Drexler. “Finding the right partner is a big part of that.”
Drexler replaces Roger Mason Jr., who departed as commissioner after the inaugural season.
While the Big3 will retain its eight-team, 10-week schedule, it has expanded team rosters from five to six players and the league has added former NBA stars such as Baron Davis, Carlos Boozer, Metta World Peace, Drew Gooden and Nate Robinson.
The salary structure remains the same. Each player receives a base salary of $10,000 per game, with additional revenue sharing based on team performance.
“The real upside is that we have a revenue split and teams get paid based on what place they come in,” Kwatinetz said. “It keeps our interests aligned.”