Building on a strong first year, the Dos Equis 3X3U National Championship will head to the Mall of America this season.
A strong first event on the court has led to exciting expectations heading into year two. The Dos Equis 3X3U National Championship, set for April 5-7, takes the best four-year collegiate players not playing in the NCAA Tournament Final Four and places them on conference teams.
The Final Four is in Minneapolis this year at U.S. Bank Stadium. Meanwhile, the Intersport team had planned on following last year’s path of holding the 3X3 tournament in a small college in the Final Four host city, but instead settled on the Mall of America. It’s the second televised sporting event held at the mall, the other being a WCW Monday Nitro event in 1995.
Intersport Executive Vice President Drew Russell said it feels good to follow in Hulk Hogan’s footsteps.
“We recognize the unique nature of the Dos Equis 3X3U National Championship, and knew it needed a one-of-a-kind venue to serve as host here in the Twin Cities,” said Jill Renslow, senior vice president of marketing and business development at Mall of America.
“The energy that lives within Mall of America every day will be amplified by the enthusiasm and passion of not only these players, but also the countless basketball fans who will be visiting during that time. We’re excited to have a front-row seat to this year’s action and bring another exceptional event to Mall of America.”
Russell said the host venue is generating a lot of buzz and will provide an amazing setting with four stories above the court. Russell said last year’s tournament in San Antonio at Saint Mary’s offered exciting action with two games at once. Now with a true half-court environment, the crowd and viewers will be focused on one game.
“We will stream longer,” Russell said. “You won’t miss any action because we won’t have competing courts going on at the same time. I liked the chaotic nature of two games, but it will be special for what this setting provides.”
The tournament has Twitter and ESPN as broadcast partners, and Russell said the hope is to continue offering a different look with the broadcast team of Kyle Montgomery, Robbie Hummel, Tate Frazier and Mark Titus.
“We wanted to create the anti-traditional college broadcast,” he said. “It’s about the players who poured blood, sweat and tears in their collegiate careers — and now is the one last opportunity to put them on a national stage and expose them to a unique way to play a game that’s growing.”
Beyond the broadcast partners, Russell said the brand sponsorship partners started strong with Dos Equis, which bought in right away. The beer brand brought along Hooters in year two, which coincidentally has its only Minneapolis location in the Mall of America.
“It’s a proven fact that nothing goes better with three-on-three basketball than a cold beer, so we’re excited to be back headlining the Dos Equis 3X3U National Championship again this year,” said Quinn Kilbury, head of partnerships and consumer experience at Heineken USA. “While last year’s event was off the charts in excitement, this year we’re bringing a huge dose of ‘interesante’ in the form of literal mountains of cash for our winners.”
Also sponsoring this year is Old El Paso, a brand in the portfolio of Minnesota-based General Mills. Along with Rocket Mortgage, Russell said the tournament is still looking for another couple brand partnerships.
“The event offers so many unique partnership opportunities,” he said.
Also growing is the three-day tournament’s prize money, with $100,000 up for grabs for the championship team of four players, up from $50,000 last year. Additionally, $1,000 installments will be awarded during pool play.
Half the field of 32 teams will make the playoff rounds, doubling last year’s eight teams advancing beyond pool play. A team made up of Big Ten seniors captured the title last year.
The 3-on-3 format is an exciting game and Russell said he hopes more people will be exposed to it this year, especially as the sport gears up for its inaugural appearance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The winner of this tournament receives an exemption into the U.S. Championships.
“We look for opportunities to provide these student-athletes that have been loyal to their universities and understand three-on-three is a career path and in 2020 could be representing the U.S. in Tokyo,” Russell said. “It’s a unique form of the sport; you can’t not appreciate the athleticism and skill level in the fast-paced 10-minute fashion.”