SlamBall Makes a Comeback in Highly Anticipated Las Vegas Debut
By Zach Siegel
SlamBall, once popular in the early 2000s, is making a grand comeback this summer 2023 in Las Vegas. Considered a sport ahead of its time, the demand for its return has swept across social media, with the hashtag #BringBackSlamBall garnering over 200 million views, according to ESPN. Targeting a younger audience, social media is facilitating in-game highlights and more for fans. With a breath of fresh air instilled in this beloved sport, there is immense excitement to see SlamBall take off again.
Created by Mason Gordon, SlamBall was wildly popular in 2002. It originally aired on The National Network, which later became known as Spike TV, airing for two seasons before the league disbanded due to a disagreement between Gordon and the network partner. It briefly returned in 2008, but only stuck around for one season and has not been seen since. The contact sport is played by 4 players on each team resembling basketball, but is played on 4 trampolines with a 20 minute time limit. Blocks, collisions and rough physical play are a legal part of the game, similar to elements of American football and ice hockey.
In order to return to the arena, SlamBall completed an $11 million Series A funding round led by Roger Ehrenberg’s IA Sports Ventures and Eberg Capital. Some investors and partners that were included in this deal were the likes of David Blitzer, co-founder of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, David Adelman, co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, Michael Rubin, CEO of Fanatics, Gary Vaynerchuk, Entrepreneur, and Blake Griffin, Boston Celtics power forward and six-time NBA All-Star. Now that the capital was raised, SlamBall needed to be seen.
In a strategic move, the SlamBall league has relocated its operations to Las Vegas, a city known for sports, entertainment, gambling and mind blowing spectacles. This move will have a significant positive financial impact on the league. Tapping into the Vegas tourism industry by hosting live SlamBall tournaments, this adrenaline filled sport is guaranteed to have people paying for their seats. The influx of visitors attending SlamBall matches is projected to boost ticket sales, drive merchandise revenue, and attract potential investors.
SlamBall has joined with media giant, ESPN, ensuring widespread coverage and exposure for the sport. On July 21 from 7-9 p.m. EDT, SlamBall returns live from Las Vegas. Over five evenings and weekends ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN+ will broadcast more than 30 hours of live SlamBall coverage, with the SlamBall Playoffs and SlamBall Championship Game taking place from August 17–19. Ticket sales will start on June 27 and all games will be played at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas. ESPN’s vast networks will provide unparalleled access for SlamBall’s premier matches to reach a global audience.
Through this partnership, viewers can expect extensive live coverage of games, highlights, analysis, and engaging storytelling showcasing the sport. The collaboration with ESPN elevates SlamBall and puts it as a top sporting event. According to Gordon, "SlamBall just kind of fits the bill. They're 20-minute games, television half hours," Gordon added. "People always really gravitated to the action, and it's this incredible mash-up between basketball, football, hockey, little bit of gymnastics, little bit of video games. That's just SlamBall, you get a whole lot in one neat, tidy little package."
As SlamBall reinvents itself, it promises to dazzle audiences worldwide, and tap into a whole new area of sports and entertainment. This, without a doubt, will generate a whole new group of athletes and fans. The comeback of SlamBall is a testament to the unwavering spirit of innovation and the power of collaboration within the sports industry.