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Ice Cube to Open Up Team Ownership Stakes for Big3 Basketball

By Kim Bhasin

The Big3 basketball league will open team ownership to fans in an effort to raise funds and get supporters more involved in league activities.

Investor options include tiers of $5,000 or $25,000 as the league looks to attract tens of millions of dollars in fresh funding. Those who buy in will get voting rights, VIP tickets to all games, a percentage of a future team sale, and first rights to expansion teams, while the higher level also includes certain intellectual property and licensing rights to team names and logos.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – AUGUST 07: Ice Cube performs during BIG3 – Week Six at Credit Union 1 Arena on August 07, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Fan ownership has long been used as a way to raise funds and boost fan involvement. The NFL’s Green Bay Packers have occasionally sold shares in the team since the 1920s. The Big3’s version will be blockchain-authenticated arrangements that weren’t possible until recently, with the craze around nonfungible tokens.

“We set out to make people feel like real owners, not just hyped-up VIP fans,” co-founder Ice Cube said in an interview. “There’s more meat on the bone than any other league trying this.”

Ice Cube, the rapper and actor turned basketball businessman, said that when management started the venture in 2017, league ownership of all its teams enabled it to move quickly and have control over decision-making as the sport grew. Half-court three-on-three hoops got a boost last summer when it debuted as an Olympic event at the Tokyo games. Big3 rules are different than those of FIBA — the governing body for international basketball — but the elevated profile of the game can only help, executives said.

Expansion Plans

“This isn’t a cash grab,” said Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz.  “We’re approaching it as a long-term play.”

The Big3 is trying to attract new devotees by bringing them behind the scenes. Those who take part in the round will get access to team practices, parties, coaches, players and referees. Every month, they’ll be able to get on a call with Ice Cube, Kwatinetz and Commissioner Clyde Drexler.

League executives are now looking for more funding from institutional and other investors as they look to add expansion teams and enter new markets. The 12-team operation considered adding four teams this season but decided to delay those plans due to the pandemic.

“We’re not desperate for it, but we do have a lot of ideas around expansion, especially on a global level,” Kwatinetz said.

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