On Thursday, the Maloof brothers, Joe and Gavin Maloof, [owners of the Sacramento Kings and the Palms Casino in Las Vegas] unveiled their invited athlete list for the 2011 Money Cup contests. Most notably among the invitees is Greg Lutzka, a former Street League participant who has left Street League to pursue the Money Cups and Dew Tour events this year. All athletes who are currently signed on with Street League can only compete in Street League and Street League-sanctioned events. The Maloof Money Cups and Dew Tour events are not sanctioned within Street League athlete's current contracts.
"I really believe in what Rob [Dyrdek] is trying to accomplish with Street League," Lutzka told ESPN Skateboarding. "But, for me and my career, I had to really look at what was the best platform to showcase my talents and generate the most exposure for my sponsors. The network TV package and broader fan base the Dew Tour provides were a big factor in my decision."
In response, Dyrdek referenced Lutzka's previous sponsor relationship with Monster Energy, which ended recently: "The last thing we ever wanted was for Greg to lose a major sponsor because of his performance at Street League. Despite being signed to a three-year agreement we understood that the companies that are willing to pay Greg expect him to win contests. It was clear after the first year that would never happen in Street League, so when Greg asked us to release him we decided it was the right thing to do."
On April 14, the Maloofs announced a fourth Money Cup event, in Washington D.C. With the addition of the D.C. stop, the Maloofs will host four contests in 2011: Maloof Money Cup NYC on June 4-5; Maloof Money Cup Orange County (date to be determined), and their first international event in Kimberly, South Africa from September 30 through October 2.
Between the four events, the Maloofs are boasting a potential prize purse of more than two million dollars, which they claim will be the largest prize purse in skateboarding history. However, one million dollars of that prize purse comes in the form of a potential bonus for any skater who wins four Maloof Money Cup contests consecutively. Chris Cole, the two-time Thrasher magazine Skater of the Year, has won the last three Money Cups in a row (Orange County in 2009 as well as 2010 and NYC in 2010).
When the million-dollar bonus was announced last spring, it seemed to many in the skateboard world, to be a direct ploy to lure Cole away from Street League and back into the fold at the Money Cup events. But last week, Dyrdek told the Associated Press he would grant Cole a one-time bye to compete at the Maloof NYC event in June.
"We're not going to stop Chris Cole from getting a million dollars, and then he's right back in Street League, and all the other skaters are for it," Dyrdek said.
Cole has not announced whether or not he intends to take Dyrdek up on that offer, nor have the Maloofs said if they would allow him to try. If he doesn't, Lutzka will be just one of 22 skaters with a shot.
Maloof Money Cup events 2011 invited athletes
Anthony Van Engelen