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We bought two season tickets last year ['97-'98] and went to all but three home games and saw some great basketball! The Mercer Arena is small enough that all the seats are pretty good, even if you get tickets at the last moment. And with even a medium-size crowd, the Mercer is Really Loud!
This year ['98-'99] we decided to pop for season tickets again, so again we've got our two great seats right above court level, in Section 3, Row A, at the corner of the baseline and the sideline, on the Seattle Reign end of the court!
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 22, 1998
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."
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"VASHON ISLAND, Wa. -- 12/22/98 -- It seems horribly ironic that I'm typing this about 45 minutes before I go out to coach a 7th-8th grade girls' basketball camp, but having learned that the ABL is filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy, I'm moved to say something.
Unfortunately, the clowns who are so busy bringing you the NBA players' lockout have won. All the rich white guys who run American consumerist sports have won. All the smirky guys who announce on ESPN have won.
My daughter and her buddies who love basketball, and all the other teenage girls who love basketball, and the college women who love basketball, and the women of the ABL who love basketball, have all lost.
The death of the ABL and all it represents is a tragedy for women's basketball, and women's sports, because it represents the triumph of monopolistic consumerist marketing over an attempt to establish a professional women's sport by outsiders who had set the interests of the players as a first priority.
The ABL was killed simply because all the rich white guys - from the NBA to ESPN to Fox Sports to all the major-market mass-media good 'ol boys - just decided that if they ignored the ABL, it would go away.
And it did go away. It's dead - from deliberate, conscious neglect - neglect by all the male insiders who wouldn't give it a moment's respect because it was women, and because it wasn't controlled by the sports establishment.
Make no mistake - this has nothing to do with sports.
This is the triumph of male sexism over feminism, a slap at Title IX, the continued onslaught of monopolistic consumerism into all aspects of American culture.
If the Justice Department thinks it needs to look into Microsoft's business practices, how about looking into the American sports monopoly?
But the American sports monopoly is too difused - there's not one entity that's guilty - it's the entire network of guys and guys-sports that's at fault.
That network is one reason I've really got to go down to basketball practice tonight: you see, we were promised the whole gym, but now boys' junior basketball is starting up, and suddenly we're being squeezed down to half the gym - we get one full court, and the boys get one full court.
But I hear that there's going to be two boy's teams there tonight, so we're likely to get squeezed down to a half-court - or get squeezed out entirely - if I'm not down there early to stake-out our turf.
See a pattern? I do: The boys get it all, and the girls get, well... squeezed out."
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...on this whole deal about the gym, 'cause some people have asked:
I'm coaching a 7th-8th grade girls' basketball camp, which runs from December through January, to get the girls warmed-up for the start of the McMurray girls' basketball season. We meet on Tuesdays from 7:00pm to 8:30pm and Sundays from 2:00pm to 4:00pm in the McMurray gym..
Basically, the issue was on Tuesday nights. The McMurray middle school gym has two full-courts (with narrow sidelines) and really I have no problem with us getting one full court, because even though we were scheduled to have the whole gym, we can share, right? Even if it's with boys!
But anyway, for several Tuesday nights there were four 5th-6th grade boys teams scheduled, and our 7th-8th grade girls, so you do the math: five teams, four baskets, who loses out? Somebody. Not us!
So I laid out the whole issue to the girls, and told 'em I wanted 'em to be real proud and real loud and to let everyone know in no uncertain terms that the McMurray middle school girls where IN THE HOUSE!
And so that's what they do: they're really noisy and really active and they really take up a lot of space, so that the boys who show up are so awe-struck that they just stay 'way out of the girls way!
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Last modified: Sat Jan 13 11:05:12 2007