ABL Website Links Map

ABL Suspends Operations, Will File Chapter 11


PALO ALTO, Calif. -- The American Basketball League (ABL) announced today that it has suspended operations and will file for protection under chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code.

Late Monday, the ABL's Board of Directors reached the decision to suspend the remainder of the league's 1998-99 schedule and file a voluntary chapter 11 bankruptcy petition to resolve creditors' claims and ensure an orderly liquidation of the league.

"This is a sad day for our fans, employees, players, and coaches, and for women's basketball in general," said Gary Cavalli, ABL co-founder and CEO, in making the announcement. "We are proud of what we accomplished as a pioneer in women's professional athletics. We put a great product on the floor. We gave America's best women athletes an opportunity to play professionally in this country during basketball season. We gave it our best shot; we fought the good fight, and we had a good run. But we were unable to obtain the television exposure and sponsorship support needed to make the league viable long-term."

The ABL, which was founded in 1995 and began play in '96, was one-third of the way through its third season. The league included nine teams located in Chicago, Colorado (Denver), Columbus, Nashville, New England (Hartford, CT), Philadelphia, Portland, San Jose, and Seattle.

The league said that plans for addressing the concerns of season ticket holders and employees are currently being formulated and will be announced in the near future.

"At this point, the league is out of money," Cavalli said. "While this was an extremely painful decision, we had no choice but to shut down. Ultimately, we exhausted every option and pursued every lead, but could not generate the revenues or financing necessary to sustain operations. And our lack of television had a lot to do with that.

"TV exposure is critical to sponsors, licensees, and investors. This year we offered millions of dollars to the TV networks for air time, but couldn't obtain adequate coverage. During the NBA lockout, the ABL still has been unable to buy TV time. It became clear that, although we had the best product, we could not find enough people willing to confront the NBA and give us the major sponsorships and TV contracts we needed."

Generally acknowledged as having the best talent in the world, the ABL featured the majority of recent women's basketball Olympians, College Players of the Year, All-Americans and Final Four MVPs. Often described as "a players' league," the ABL offered its players stock options, a retirement plan, year-round health benefits, and a seat on the Board of Directors.

"We tried to do things the right way," Cavalli said. "We paid our players well, gave them a piece of their own league, and a voice in setting league policy."

Founded by Steve Hams, Anne Cribbs and Cavalli in 1995, the ABL began its first season in October, 1996. During the inaugural year, eight teams played a 40-game schedule. The Columbus Quest won the championship in a five-game series over the Richmond Rage. Games were televised on SportsChannel Regional Networks and BET. Attendance averaged 3,536 leaguewide.

In its second season, the ABL expanded to nine teams, adding a franchise in Long Beach and relocating the Richmond Rage to Philadelphia. The Columbus Quest again won the league championship, defeating the Long Beach StingRays in five games. Attendance increased 23 to a leaguewide average of 4,333. The league's television package included 36 games on Fox Sports Net and BET.

The ABL began its third season in November with nine teams. The Atlanta Glory and StingRays were dissolved, with new teams added in Nashville and Chicago. The league's TV package was to include two championship series games on CBS and 16 on Fox Sports Net.

"I want to thank the people who believed in the ABL -- our fans, players, coaches, sponsors and investors," Cavalli said. "I especially want to thank the employees of the league, who have sacrificed so much and given so much of their lives to this endeavor. Their dedication, perseverance and commitment have been an inspiration."

ABL Website Links Map

This whole deal was originally done by Medius Interactive and the American Basketball League, but I saved what you're seeing here before it vanished forever. (Since I was a Seattle Reign season ticket holder, I feel they owe me something). Think of me as an historian. Future generations of young girls should know what was.