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Creighton men's basketball players will host fan fest thanks to NIL opportunities
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BASKETBALL

Creighton men's basketball players will host fan fest thanks to NIL opportunities

Creighton men's basketball players will host a fan fest Oct. 23 inside the CHI Health Center, an event made possible by the new NIL options in college sports.

The Jays partnered with G3 Marketing, a company from Cincinnati, to attract sponsors and plan a "midnight madness" style program so players could capitalize on new name, image and likeness rules and CU fans could meet the team.

The result: The inaugural Silverstone Group I Hub Bluejays Basketball Fan Fest.

Tickets are $5 and available at BluejaysBasketballFanFest.com and Ticketmaster.

"It's a great opportunity for fans of Creighton to get a first look at the team," said Greg Lazaroff, vice president of NIL for G3 Marketing. "It'll be a fun, interactive, community-oriented event."

Lazaroff and his G3 team have worked with players at Kentucky, Cincinnati and Dayton to organize similar events this fall.

For Creighton, it's been six years since it last hosted a "Bluejay Madness" event during its preseason — with a dunk contest, scrimmage and autograph session.

The Oct. 23 fan fest will have some of those same elements. But Lazaroff said the CU players' idea is to create even more opportunities to engage with the audience.

Dance battles. Free throw contests between fans. They're thinking about doing some trivia and a Q&A segment. Maybe a couple lucky patrons could get named temporary coaches for a 5-on-5 scrimmage.

The G3 news release describes the event as an "intimate fan experience."

Creighton ranked fifth in the country in average attendance for its home games in 2017, 2018 and 2020. Members of the CU program have often talked about their strong bond with the Jays' fan base.

But last season the pandemic forced Creighton to limit capacity at the CHI Health Center due to safety concerns. The largest crowd was 2,544.

So it's been 19 months since the arena's been full of Bluejay fans.

Several CU players have mentioned this preseason they're excited to play in front of their normally raucous crowd. It was a major selling point in recruiting for almost all of them.

"I kind of know what the environment is (at the CHI), I just haven't played in front of the environment," sophomore Ryan Kalkbrenner said. "It's going to be so exciting."

The Oct. 23 fan fest won't be as intense as a game day. But Lazaroff said the players hope to make it fun for all.

The CHI Health Center doors will open at 6 p.m. on Oct. 23. The festivities are set to begin at 7 p.m. More info is available at BluejayBasketballFanFest.com.

Fans will have the option to donate to local and national charities on site. But an undisclosed amount of the night's proceeds will go to Creighton players, who have the leeway under Nebraska law and NCAA rules to profit off their NIL. The new NIL legislation went into effect this past summer.


Omaha World-Herald: Local Sports

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