A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Welcome To Mall Ball: Arena Basketball League To Debut Nationally In Malls Across America
PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia-based company has a novel way to reinvigorate foot traffic at malls across the country by bringing out the basketball player in everyone.
This month, Mall Ball, LP unveils a unique mall-based entertainment concept that during the next 2 years will be open in more than 400 mall locations nationwide.
The Arena Basketball League (ABL) challenges mall goers to step up the line and see if they have what it takes to win major prizes for their basketball shooting prowess.
The 16 feet high, 22 feet long, and 11 feet wide arenas are authentic in every way, with real NBA backboards, rims, score clocks, and hardwood floors that deliver a true NBA shoot out experience. Jumbotrons display each players scores, and a professional, live MC calls the action as players try to sink as many baskets as possible in 24 seconds.
Mall Ball players can compete on both the local and national levels. Each week, the League awards the player with the highest score at all its Arenas a $1,000 cash prize.
In November of this year, the weekly cash prize will increase to $5,000. All national weekly high scorers from throughout the year will travel to the 2006 NBA Playoffs to compete for the right to be named ABL’s Rain Maker, the best Arena Basketball player in the land, and win a grand prize of $50,000.
In addition, each Arena holds daily and even hourly shoot outs. Sink a set number of consecutive free throws and immediately walk away with one of many fabulous prizes.
Through a relationship with SFX Sports Group, players can also win authentic sports memorabilia, equipment, I-Pods, Sony PSPs and PS2s, and EA Sports games. Even retailers in the malls get into the action. In Philadelphia, for instance, Radio Shack gave away free Mall Ball plays when customers bought cell phones.
Mall Ball has already been tested in two of the largest urban malls in America, The Gallery at Market East in Center City Philadelphia, and the Prince Georges Mall, just outside Washington, D.C.
The Arenas proved so popular with players, as well as mall retailers looking for increased foot traffic, that the company green-lighted a national roll out and is constructing more than 400 of the self-contained arenas to be opened in locations nationwide.
Its all the brainchild of Jim Lesser, a long-time entrepreneur and founder of JDL Ventures, the maker of top sports games for some of the hottest entertainment venues in the country. Lesser and his investors are bullish on basketball for a number of reasons.
“Over 100 million Americans consider themselves avid basketball fans, and basketball is the worlds most popular sport among teenagers today,” says Lesser, who as the founder and president of JDL Ventures has designed, built and marketed some of the leading sports games for entertainment venues such as Six Flags, Jillians, Dave & Busters, and EA Sports events.
“It is also the most accessible sport for everyone. Who doesn’t know how to shoot? Our Arenas attract both the hard core player, college and NBA fans, kids who want to have fun and win a prize, and moms and dads who watch the action and can’t resist playing for themselves.”
As part of its national roll out campaign, Mall Ball expects to open 47 arenas in malls from New York to Virginia during the next four months. “Showmanship is everything to this concept”, says Lesser.
“We want the players to feel as if they are the center of the universe when they step up to that foul line. For many, this is the chance to be something special and the chance to be the show before a crowd of their peers and family”.
To manage the arenas remotely, Mall Ball has developed proprietary software, which allows staff, headquartered in King of Prussia, Pa., to view and monitor live play and run management analysis in real time. The software keeps the play honest and provides Mall Ball with the means to constantly improve the authenticity of the experience.
“We can literally view every shot as it occurs,” says Lesser. “We have the ability to make adjustments on the fly, and create a better business at a moments notice.”
Players spend $4 for the chance to step up to the line and test their skills. The ABL gives everyone the chance to stand at that line, experience an authentic NBA moment and walk away a little richer and a little happier for having been a part of the show.