IMG Media and Mike Tollin, the founder of television and feature film production outfit Tollin Productions, have formed a new joint venture to develop and expand the action sport Slamball.
The venture is intended to bring the hybrid spectator sport to a global audience using IMG’s resources, including IMG Academy, the multi-sport training and education division of IMG. A two-month training camp in Bradenton, Florida, will identify, recruit and train Slamball athletes and coaches. Approximately 120 players will be invited to the camp, following a review of 50,000 players from regional Slamball tryouts. From this pool, 64 players and 16 coaches will be selected to participate in a single-venue season this June. Ultimately, the goal is for the sport to return in 2009 with eight franchises playing in U.S. cities.
Entrepreneur Mason Gordon created Slamball, which is a full-contact team competition played on a combination of surfaces. It includes elements of American football, hockey, soccer and gymnastics. Two teams playing four-on-four play 20-minute games on a surface approximately the size of a regulation basketball court, with four springboards built into the court around each basket. The remainder of the court is fully shock absorbent and surrounded by 12-foot plexiglass walls that keep the ball in play at all times.
The new company is currently in discussions with broadcast partners to deliver the competition to television audiences across the U.S. and internationally in 2008. Former Philadelphia 76ers president and entrepreneur Pat Croce will serve as the league’s commissioner.
“This project leverages our expertise in entertainment with our capabilities in athletic training and sports production and distribution to create a multi-platform Slamball league with the potential to attract a worldwide audience,” said Chris Albrecht, the head of global media at IMG.
George Pyne, the president of sports and entertainment at IMG, added, “Slamball combines the best elements of team and action sports and even live-action video games. Combining the worldwide sports, marketing and production resources of IMG with this innovative sporting concept will take Slamball to the next level.”
Tollin commented, “This is a perfect partnership and an ideal scenario for Tollin Productions. To combine our longstanding relationship with Chris with the reach of IMG will allow us to raise the visibility of the sport around the world and maximize its opportunities on a wide range of platforms.”