Two Sports Event Launches: NBA Con and Get in the Game Conference to Debut in 2023
Independent show organizers announced the launch of two sports-related events debuting in 2023. In partnership with Emerald Holding Inc., the National Basketball Association (NBA) is launching NBA Con, a B2C event set for July 7-9 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. First and Pen and SBRnet are launching the Get in the Game Conference, an event for students at historically black colleges or universities (HBCUs) to learn about careers in sports business. The inaugural event will take place Oct. 6-8 at the Sheraton Inner Harbor in Baltimore.
NBA Con will bring together fashion, music, cuisine, art, and technology for a three-day event highlighted by the game’s brightest stars and biggest personalities. The event is planned to feature a footprint at Mandalay Bay of nearly 400,000 square feet — twice the size of the NBA Crossover fan event held during NBA All-Star 2023 that welcomed more than 50,000 fans.
“NBA Con is for every fan,” said NBA Head of Event Strategy and Development Joey Graziano. “It combines our players’ and fans’ passion for the game with their authentic off-court interests to create unique experiences that could only come to life through NBA fandom.”
Appearances will include legends and current NBA stars, including six-time NBA champion and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; Minnesota Timberwolves’ Mike Conley; Indiana Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton; New Orleans Pelicans’ CJ McCollum; Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young; and 2023 NBA Draft prospects Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson. Additional appearances are expected to be announced.
NBA Con tips off the opening weekend of NBA 2K24 Summer League, which begins 10 days of NBA action on July 7. NBA 2K24 Summer League will showcase the league’s top young players, many of whom are taking the floor for the first time in an NBA uniform.
At NBA Con, fans will have access to exclusive live experiences that align with their own personal interests, including:
- The latest trends in NBA fashion and sneakers, with NBA players showcasing their own unique styles, alongside exclusive drops of limited-edition apparel and accessories.
- Live entertainment performances by chart-topping artists, with a focus on those who share a love of basketball.
- Exclusive shoppable NBA Con and NBA product drops, from limited-edition apparel to rare collectibles and everything in between.
- Interactive brand experiences that unite the worlds of basketball and technology, including augmented and virtual reality games.
- Appearances and meet-and-greets, giving fans the chance to get up close and personal with NBA players and personalities.
- Live podcasts, conversations and creator studios featuring athletes, creators, artists and media personalities sharing a stage to discuss a range of topics related to NBA culture and to break news that fans at NBA Con will hear first.
- The Park, a basketball-centric exhibition with various courts where fans can shoot around, watch open practices or participate in open runs.
Emerald, a U.S.-based producer of trade shows and conferences, will bring NBA Con to life for the NBA.
“At Emerald, our core mission is to unite audiences through the power of interactive moments, which is why we are excited to partner with the NBA to create the ultimate basketball fan experience: NBA Con,” said Emerald President and CEO Hervé Sedky.
He continued, “By seamlessly unifying the essence of the NBA's lifestyle, culture, and community, we are presented with an unprecedented opportunity to elevate the game and its fans to extraordinary new heights, both on and off the court. Through NBA Con's connected and immersive environments, we aim to deliver something truly never seen before.”
The show is offering MVP access tickets that include early access to the event one hour prior to general admission tickets, fast-pass lanes at select NBA Con activations, priority access and viewing area for NBA Con concerts, a gift bag and a commemorative badge.
Get in the Game Conference
Mark Sullivan, one of the founders of The Running Event that was sold to Diversified Communications, is launching the Get in the Game Conference through his new company, SBRNet, which focuses on careers in sports business for students of color. The conference is a joint venture with minority-owned media company First and Pen.
“Our goal is to educate students about the large number of career options that exist in sports and connect companies with talented young men and women of color who will help them forge future success across their businesses,” said First and Pen Founder Yussuf Khan. “As an industry veteran, an entrepreneur and educator, I understand the needs and goals of the industry, the opportunities it presents and the talent, vision and success that young people of color can bring when doors are opened.”
Get In the Game is a three-day conference and career expo that will directly connect students with industry leaders and recruiters, as well as provide insight, education and direct interaction with business practices, strategies and operations across the industry.
“We’re excited to bring Get In The Game to Baltimore,” Khan said. “The area is home to four historic HBCUs, and the city is driving distance from other universities and colleges.”
The event will feature a wide range of companies representing the retail, media, professional and collegiate sports industries. Confirmed sponsors include Dick’s Sporting Goods, On Running, Under Armour, ASICS, Clarks, the Major League Baseball Players Association and Ilitch Sports, owners of The Detroit Tigers and Red Wings.
“Our goal is to showcase the wide range of career options in sports that are open to students of color,” said Sullivan, managing partner of SBRnet, which provides data and other sports business resources to more than 250 colleges and universities.