SBD/October 3, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

American Basketball League Founder Says Business Model Will Make League Successful

American Basketball League Founder & CEO Steve Haney believes that minor league basketball "can not only survive but thrive -- if it doesn't follow the model of leagues such as the CBA, USBL, or new ABA," according to Gary Washburn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Set to begin play Jan. 19, Haney's league features "the Tropics Conference, with six teams in Florida, and the Lone Star Conference, with six teams in Texas." The ABL will play a 24-game schedule that "concludes with a Final Four-type tournament for the top two teams in each division." What differentiates the ABL from other leagues "are two major things: It will play by FIBA International rules, and it will serve as a feeder league for European leagues, not the NBA or NBADL." The league will "attempt to flourish by playing in smaller arenas, reducing travel costs ... and giving fans a modified product with the international rules." Haney said, "There's been over 200 franchises that have folded in the last 10 years in minor league basketball in America, and a lot of it has to do with a flawed business model that these other leagues have created." He added, "You can't have a team from Idaho and send it on an airplane with a whole staff of people thousands of miles away to play a minor league game in front of 500 people. It's not going to work. That's why the D-League is losing money and that's why these other leagues have failed." Haney said that the ABL "will not inhibit players' ability to jump to a European team with a buyout clause, as the NBA does with its D-League players." The ABL has scheduled a meeting with NBA officials "to discuss the league's potential impact on the NBADL." Washburn wrote Haney's plan "appears to be gaining momentum" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/30).
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