Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Orlando Magic hopes to turn gamers into basketball fans

The Orlando Magic and 16 other NBA franchises have agreed to sponsor teams in a new video game basketball league, as the professional basketball industry aims to develop a new line of e-sports revenue streams — and to convert a generation of young gamers into ticket-paying, television-watching basketball fans.

The NBA 2K League — a partnership between the NBA and Take Two Interactive, the publisher of the NBA 2K video-game franchise — will “tip off” in May and will function, in many respects, much like the real-world NBA. Each of the 17 teams participating in the league is expected to draft five gamers this month after months of leaguesponsored tryouts. The teams then will compete against each other through a regular season, several in-season tournaments and a season-ending playoffs, with each of the games live-streamed over a service such as Twitch. (Negotiations as to which streaming service the league would use were still underway in January.)

Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins says the franchise will bring its five gamers to Orlando, likely putting them up in the same house so they can practice frequently. Unlike regular video games, where gamers control avatars of actual NBA players, NBA 2K League gamers will control avatars of themselves. “These players are intended to, over time, become celebrities in their own right,” he says.

The value for the Magic is two-fold. First, the team will get the rights to sell the advertising inventory for each of its “home” games in the videogame league, including courtside signage, court logos and uniform ads.

Second, the team and the league hope that video game fans who watch the video-game league, who skew even younger than the NBA’s own 20-to-35 demographic, will eventually became real-world basketball fans. The NBA 2K video-game franchise has roughly 1.6 million daily active users, and Martins says the early research suggests that most of them are not active basketball fans.

“There’s a real opportunity for fan development and fan growth of our brand,” Martins says. “The goal is to develop them into a broader fan and into a fan that would be attracted to watching the NBA on television or watching a game in person.”

Central Florida Business Briefs

CASSELBERRY — Jackson Healthcare of Atlanta acquired Avant Healthcare, a Casselberry-based international recruitment and placement firm for medical professionals.

COCOA BEACH — Wakulla Suites is undergoing a $14-million renovation, turning the property into the Westgate Cocoa Beach Resort with 120 two-bedroom units.

LAKE COUNTY — Lake-Sumter Habitat for Humanity plans to build a “test” community of 400- to-700-sq.-ft. homes that could sell for roughly $35,000 each.

MOUNT DORA — First Green Bank, which in September became the first bank in Florida to provide banking services to the medical marijuana industry, announced it will stop servicing the industry.

ORANGE COUNTY — The county raised impact fees on newhome construction for parks, fire and police services

ORLANDO — A San Diego investment group bought three of the tallest office buildings in downtown Orlando, including the 27-story Bank of America Center, the 19-story One Orlando Centre and the 18-story Citrus Center. Southwest Value Partners paid $208.1 million to buy the buildings from Atlanta-based Cousins Properties.

  • Tavistock Development Group sold the 335,000-sq.-ft. Lake Nona Landing, a shopping center anchored by a Walmart, to Clarion Partners for $58 million.
  • Orlando International Airport for the first time topped 44 million passengers in a year, with double-digit growth in both domestic and international traffic.
  • Orlando Health entered into an agreement with New York-based Teledoc to provide telehealth services.

SEMINOLE COUNTY — County commissioners raised school impact fees from $5,000 to $9,000 per home.

THE VILLAGES — With 2,231 sales in 2017, The Villages was again the top-selling masterplanned community in the United States, according to real estate research firm RCLCO.

WINTER GARDEN — Nemours Children’s Hospital broke ground on a 12,000-sq.-ft. care center.

WINTER PARK — Ruth’s Hospitality Group, the parent company of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, acquired six restaurants in Hawaii from a longtime franchisee for $35 million.


  • CNL Financial Group named Stephen Mauldin and Chirag Bhavsar co-CEOs. Mauldin, who had been group president and executive leader for all CNL real estate-focused funds, will oversee all real estate investments, legal and other corporate functions. Bhavsar, who had been CFO of CNL Bank, will oversee all of CNL’s private capital investments, financial management and other corporate services. Former CEO Thomas Sittema and former CFO Tracy Schmidt both resigned.
  • SunTrust Banks promoted Scott Cathcart, Central Florida division president, to Florida division president. Cathcart, who will remain in Orlando, will continue to have direct oversight of the Central Florida market.

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