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CBA UNDERGOING "FUNDAMENTAL PHILOSOPHICAL SHIFT"
Published June 4, 1998
As the CBA "plots a planned expansion and considers" a possible TV contract, the league is "borrowing liberally from a game plan that minor league baseball has used to drive increased attendance and healthy gains from sponsorship and licensing deals," according to Greg Johnson, who profiles the league in today's L.A. TIMES. The nine- team league "hopes to add seven franchises in coming years" and is looking to turn "once-sleepy havens for hard-core sports fans into affordable, family-oriented entertainment destinations." Grand Rapids Hoops CEO Bob Przybysz: "What you've seen is a fundamental philosophical shift. We're in the entertainment business. And, while part of the entertainment happens to be a basketball component, the rest of it is ... fun." CBA Commissioner Steve Patterson: "The league used to try and mirror the NBA, which built its reputation on star appeal. But with a percentage of your best players moving up each year, you can't afford to take that approach." Patterson said that while the league lost $6M in '96-97, it cut its loss to $1M last season, and though a "few franchises are still shaky," the league expects to turn a profit in '98-99 (L.A. TIMES, 6/4). OWNERSHIP AND MARKETING: In terms of new ownership, CA- based Mandalay Sports Entertainment, which owns minor league baseball clubs, said it has "an interest" in pursuing a CBA team. Mandalay Managing Partner Ken Stickney said, "The CBA fills a niche. But they face the same challenge that all sports franchises face at that level. People have a whole lot of options for entertainment." Johnson also reports that the league is hoping to increase its TV exposure through its alliance with New Line Cinema, producers of "Hoop Dreams," which they hope "can craft a different look for its television programming -- something that will draw young, hip viewers that sponsors crave" (L.A. TIMES, 6/4).