Mark Cuban is bringing Minecraft to his beloved Dallas Mavericks in a unique mashup that will let fans experience a scale model of the American Airlines Center in all of its blocky beauty.
“Mavs World” will allow visitors to unleash creativity and compete in basketball mini-games, as well as participate in building contests. The unprecedented partnership was announced with the mega-popular Mineplex, one of the largest Minecraft servers in the world. It will launch later this summer, and will be free for all players.
Cuban saw the collaboration with Minecraft as a unique way of approaching and supporting education not only in Dallas, but on a global scale, too.
“It was pretty obvious that [Minecraft] was exploding, particularly among younger kids,” Cuban told [a]listdaily in an exclusive interview. “No one in the sports world had created a connection for fans. I saw it as a great opportunity for the Mavs to connect to, and create new fans.”
Cuban is a big believer in exploring and learning the fundamentals of computer science through Minecraft for both adults and children alike, especially with his six-year-old son Jake. Microsoft, which acquired Minecraft in 2014 for $2.5 billion, released the Education Edition, designed specifically for the classroom, earlier this January. There are even applications like 3D Sunshine that reimagine Minecraft through virtual reality.
But as is the case with any deal for the shark investor, there is business to be done as well. Cuban also identified the building game that boasts 3 million active users at any given minute as a proper move that positions him well in the sports spectrum, too.
With servers in both the United States and Europe, Mineplex hosts millions of unique users every month. It even has Mineplex Competitive League for players like uber-popular YouTube influencer Jordan Maron—also known as Captain Sparklez.
When asked if the merge with Minecraft puts his NBA franchise at the forefront of the league’s tech movement—highlighted by its foray into virtual reality—Cuban smiles and says: “We are always there. I try to push the Mavs and the NBA into new fronts, whether it’s Minecraft, biometrics, analytics, and more to come. We look for any edge we can get.”
Hardcore video gamers and sports fans generally have little in common, and the recent eSports boom—which Cuban has millions invested in—has made reaching the gaming audience crucial. However, Cuban believes sports teams don’t have to acquire them because “there are plenty of fans of both.”
“The real connection will come when NBA [2K] get competitive and professional,” he says.
In the meantime, the fully immersive recreation of the Mavs’ home arena, which users have dabbled with in the past, will serve as a stride to unite a generation of video gamers and basketball fans into the same space. How, exactly?
“Because anything that is fun, is fun,” Cuban simply states.
Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan