SlamBall is on its way back. Investors have raised $11 million to fund a revival of the basketball-on-trampolines game, betting its basic cable appeal 20 years ago and a sizable amount of continuing social media buzz will make for a successful relaunch of the league this summer.
The new Series A round of funding is led by IA Sports Ventures and Eberg Capital, both of which are co-owners of the Miami Marlins, among other investments. There are a dozen other participants in the round: David Blitzer and David Adelman, both of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment; Fanatics founder Michael Rubin; VC investor Gary Vaynerchuk; NBA player Blake Griffin; Sacramento Kings investor Kevin Nagle; Lloyd Danzig of Sharp Alpha; Legends Growth Enterprises; Red Games CEO Brian Lovell; attorney Jesse Sharf, Accelerate Sports; and VC investor Eric Manlunas.
SlamBall, a modified basketball game on trampolines that pulls elements from hockey and football as well, was created in 1999, and its second season premiere on SpikeTV in 2003 garnered 2.3 million viewers. But the league began faltering later that season due to late start times and long games that watered down the game’s quick-hitting appeal, co-founder Mason Gordon told Sportico in August. By 2008 the game was off U.S. television, though it retained appeal in China and elsewhere.
SlamBall cofounders Mason Gordon and Michael Tollin regained the rights to SlamBall from IMG in 2022. Despite SlamBall’s absence from competitive play, more than 200 million people on social media have viewed the hashtag #BringBackSlamBall, lending support to the idea the game still holds wide appeal.
Gordon and Tollin envision the revived league of eight “corporate-owned” teams playing a six-week season in Las Vegas this summer followed by a week of playoffs. In addition, there will be a docuseries produced by Tollin’s MSM, best known for the The Last Dance series on the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls.
“It’s an incredible feeling to be back, and especially by popular demand,” said Gordon in a press release. “I want to thank SlamBall’s persistent and passionate fans for making this comeback possible and our investors for helping make the dream real. This is a true Cinderella story–only with helmets, pads and trampolines.”
(This article has been corrected in the second paragraph to correct the name and title of Kevin Nagle.)