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3 Point Productions Plays Major Role in Popularity of WNBA's Las Vegas Aces


3 Point Productions Plays Major Role in Popularity of WNBA's Las Vegas Aces The company has been a partner since the franchise's first day By Kristian Hern ndez, Associate Editor

Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - 10:34 am

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With a stake in the NFL, WNBA, and NHL, Las Vegas is slowly becoming a professional-sports town. One of the city's original franchises, the Las Vegas Aces, has risen from the ground floor of women's professional basketball to become a formidable force in the league's Western Conference. Now in its fourth season, the organization continues to grow its creative and in-venue strategies with 3 Point Productions, a production company that has been a steadfast partner since 2018.

We've been a part of this club from the get-go, says Matt Heuer, creative director, 3 Point Productions. It's an opportunity that we still look back on, and I'm very proud of the way it all came together.

Humble Beginnings: Aces Rebrand After Six Years in Utah, 15 in San Antonio The Las Vegas Aces have a long history in the WNBA, but playing under different names in different cities. The organization played first in Salt Lake City as the Utah Starzz from 1997 to 2002, then migrated southeast to play as the San Antonio Silver Stars from 2003 to 2013. The club were the San Antonio Stars from 2013 to 2017, then moved to Las Vegas in 2018 to play under their current name. Looking to plant roots in Sin City, the Aces looked outwards to develop a voice and identity in their new home and turned to 3 Point Productions for its expertise.

The Las Vegas Aces play home games in Michelob Ultra Arena, which used to be named Mandalay Bay Events Center.

We jumped [into the project] before the Las Vegas Aces were unveiled, notes Heuer. We knew that [head coach] Bill [Laimbeer] was going to be involved, and we knew they had some exciting aspects about the brand.

The company not only generates a majority of the team's in-venue content but is also responsible for distributing this material on game days at Michelob Ultra Arena (formerly named Mandalay Bay Events Center). Without many local professional teams at the time - the Vegas Golden Knights had been established in 2017 - the pool of production talent was somewhat shallow. This caused a massive learning curve for Heuer and 3 Point Productions President Patrick Walker to flatten.

There was a lot of training on the front end, so it was almost like a second home for quite a while leading up to the inaugural year, Heuer says. We got [the Aces crew] to a place where we were able to execute an amazing first season, and we've set up a solid foundation from Year 1 that we've been able to grow.

Vegas-Based Ops: Video Village, High-Energy Prompts Light Up Michelob Ultra Arena Fans have finally been welcomed back to the building, but, during the early months of the 2021 schedule, internal COVID-19 protocols from the 2020 Wubble in Bradenton, FL, were carried over. As the season progressed, some restrictions were lifted, allowing more interaction with spectators in the stands.

During the Aces' playoff run, which unfortunately ended in Game 5 of the semifinals against the Phoenix Mercury, the energy level was kicked up a notch for the packed crowds at the venue. The change in pace involved flashing a lot more hype videos, fan-driven prompts, and prize giveaways a lot earlier in the contest. The prompts included the A'ja Wilson Dance Cam, Chelsea Gray Dribble Cam, DJ Cam, and the Kelsey Plum Flex Cam.

The Video Village houses in-venue production technology, including a NewTek 3Play production switcher.

Seattle has always been known as a tough place to play, and I think that's [becoming true] here in Las Vegas, says Heuer. Something that we would traditionally save for the third- or fourth-quarter moment would be used a lot earlier, especially in a deciding game like a Game 5.

The tools that Heuer and his team have at their disposal are in Video Village, the name for the area located at court level and adjacent to the player tunnel. Because the team plays in a smaller venue than, say, the Liberty, who play in Brooklyn's Barclays Center, the control-room layout is driven by a simplified tech arsenal, including a NewTek 3Play production switcher, Chyron graphics, and Daktronics software to run elements to the LED ribbon boards and main centerhung videoboard.

Star-Studded Production: Heuer, League's Best Drive Elements for 2021 WNBA All-Star During the 2021 regular season and playoffs, Heuer was busy with games for the Aces, but, during the extended Olympic and All-Star break, he put in some extra hours at the center of production plans for the 2021 WNBA All-Star Game. Since it was located in Las Vegas for the second straight season (absent the pandemic-canceled 2020 edition), 3 Point Productions once again participated in the annual showcase as it did in Seattle in 2017.

The Aces hosted the Phoenix Mercury during Game 5 of the 2021 WNBA Semifinals.

To produce a marquee event like the All-Star Game, Heuer assembled an Avengers-style crew for this exhibition in Las Vegas. It included Aces in-game host CJ Simpson, Washington Mystics and U.S. Women's Basketball in-arena host Britt Waters, Washington Mystics' in-arena talent DJ Heat, and first-time in-arena host for the Atlanta Dream Bria Janelle.

It's always such an honor to be a part of those games, Heuer says. It was a little different than what we did in 2019, but, all of that considered, it was magical. We were able to take a page from the NBA playbook and bring in talent from various WNBA markets.

Split Squad: Crew Balances Aces Work With Ops for Seattle Storm, Atlanta Dream Although there are a lot of show elements to control in Las Vegas, 3 Point Productions also has co
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