Reno-Sparks Chamber, NBA host 3-on-3 tournament, business expo at Virginia Street Bridge
IF YOU GO
What: BizBall, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament and business expo
Where: Virginia Street Bridge, downtown Reno
When: Starts at 10 a.m. Friday, July 12
More info: bizball.net
RENO, Nev. — Ann Silver wanted to shake things up.
The CEO of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce had grown tired of the organization’s yearly summer golf tournaments. Another day of driving, putting and networking? Yawn. Plus, with 2019 marking the chamber’s 100th anniversary, Silver wanted to kick-off — or more accurately, tip-off — the organization’s next century with something fresh.
So Silver and her colleague, Taylor Russo, the chamber’s director of member engagement, hatched an idea.
“Taylor and I, we love basketball,” she said. “So we thought, what could bring people into downtown, close to where we work, be something done in coordination with the city, and feature the fact that midtown and downtown are vibrant?”
Pausing, she offers her palms and shrugs, “And we just thought up … ‘basketball on the bridge.’”
Specifically, the Virginia Street Bridge in downtown Reno, where Silver and her team blueprinted as the site for an all-day 3-on-3 basketball tournament. In addition, they mapped out a business expo to take place at the adjacent city plaza, where hundreds of company booths could spring to life.
“The combination of business and basketball and downtown just worked,” Silver added.
But before launching the new project, called BizBall, Silver wanted the backing of a prominent sponsor, preferably one related to basketball.
She knew just who to call: her brother, Adam Silver, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY
The concept of a 3-on-3 basketball tournament happening on a bridge, however, was tough for Adam Silver to picture when his sister pitched him the idea.
“I was a bit confused when she (Ann) was describing it on the phone,” Adam Silver said in a phone interview this week with the Northern Nevada Business View. “She said, ‘You’ve got to come see the site.’”
And so, back in March, Adam Silver, his wife and young daughter, trekked from the Big Apple to the Biggest Little City.
It didn’t take long for the NBA Commissioner to see that Reno-Sparks Chamber’s idea was a slam-dunk. After walking the wide bridge (big enough for three 50-foot courts), and surveying the surroundings — the Truckee River rushing below, the snow-capped mountains towering in the distance, all under a blue Nevada sky — Adam Silver was sold.
“We saw the site and I instantly saw why it had the opportunity to be so special,” said Adam Silver, who signed off on the NBA sponsoring the inaugural BizBall event. He even signed the championship basketballs that will be awarded to the winning teams; they will also receive sizeable trophies.
“My highlight,” Russo said, “was when he (Adam Silver) was taking pictures of our stuff and sending it back to (his office in) New York, bragging about what he sees in Reno.”
Though he did his due diligence — flying to Reno, meeting with the chamber team, checking out the site — Adam Silver said when his sister called and asked for the NBA’s sponsorship, deep down he didn’t have a choice.
“I’m not allowed to say ‘no’ to my older sister,” Adam Silver said with a laugh. “But, more importantly, we love to support participation in basketball, and this is a wonderful event bringing people together essentially of all ages from around the community for a really fun and enjoyable way to play basketball.”
NBA COMMISH: FUTURE VISITS TO RENO LIKELY
Featuring over 70 teams in a single-elimination 3-on-3 tournament and over 100 company booths, BizBall will tip-off at 10 a.m. Friday on the Virginia Street Bridge in downtown Reno.
The event will also include the Bank of America Bank Shot Challenge, Bay Equity Free Throw Challenge, Waste Management 3-Point Challenge and ITS Logistics Slam Dunk Challenge.
In addition, on opposite ends of the bridge, Tesla vehicles and Burning Man art cars will be on display.
Spectators of all ages are welcome, Ann Silver noted.
“We love the fact that it’s outdoors, it’s taking advantage of summer, it’s recreational, and it’s not golf,” she said. “Nothing against golf, love the game, but how cool could it be, as the only chamber of commerce and largest business organization in Northern Nevada, to do something really different and fun? And maximize the opportunity on a scenic bridge, and call attention to everything that’s happening here in Reno.”
Though Adam Silver is unable to attend the inaugural BizBall event Friday, he said he hopes to make an appearance in the future.
“I don’t want to commit to anything specific because my schedule is so unpredictable, but I may get to Reno on a regular basis to see my sister,” he said. “Now that the BizBall event has been created, it makes perfect sense to schedule one of my future visits around this event.”
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.