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ABA returns with black ownership.

Blacks do more than dribble in new b-bail league

Three decades after they lit up the high school basketball courts in the suburbs of Detroit, Gregory Terrell and Arthus Blackwell have joined the short list of African Americans to own a basketball franchise in a professional league. They are co-owners of the Detroit Dogs, one of the eight teams that is part of the new American Basketball Association 2001 (ABA).

Blackwell, is part owner of Greektown Casino in Detroit and Terrell, who also owns a Detroit accounting firm and settlement company, obtained the ABA franchise with a $1 franchise fee and a league assessment fee of $150,000 to support the league office for administrative purposes. But Terrell said the operating budget for the team, which wilt play a 56 game schedule, is about $2.5 million to $3 million. The operating budget is supported by corporate sponsorships, season ticket sales, and promotions.

Greg Davis, owner of the Chicago Skyliners, is another African American owner in the ABA. He plans to show everyone that the Windy City has enough fans for the Chicago Bulls and his team. "You have a city with eight million people in the Chicago metropolitan area. There is a good opportunity to reach college kids and others who are looking for wholesome entertainment."

Davis, 52, who owns several radio stations in Columbus, Georgia, and Davis Broadcasting Co. in Charlotte, North Carolina, said very few African Americans own any sports franchises, even though they make up the majority of the NBA market. "The key is marketing and promotion; we plan on being out in the community."

While NBA players have multimillion-dollar contracts, the 12 members on each of the ABA teams will make less than $900,000 a year combined. Terrell said there wouldn't be a shortage of players because many already play in foreign basketball leagues or for the Continental Basketball Association (CBA). Only 58 players get drafted into the NBA each year.

"We are paying [players] an average of 475,000 a year," Terrell said. "We are looking to attract guys who don't want to go overseas to play basketball or who can't make enough money playing for the CBA."

With former NBA pros like George "The Iceman' Gervin, Darryl Dawkins, and Paul Westhead among the head coaches and big-city teams like the Chicago Skyliners, Memphis Houn'dawgs, and Kansas City Knights, ABA 2000 founders say the new league will spread like wildfire in urban areas across the country.

Dick Tinkham, one of the original owners of the Indiana Pacers, said the new league will be inexpensive to watch and have the flavor of the old ABA that produced red, white, and blue balls, three-point shots, and players like Julius "Dr. J." Irving."

"There are going to be different playing rules in our league," said Tinkham who along with Joe Newman, CEO of Alliance Broadcasting, conceived the idea of restarting the league three years ago in an Indiana McDonalds. "Players will get a chance to earn extra points by stealing the balls; we want a fan-friendly game," says Tinkham.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:African American-owned and managed teams within American Basketball Association
Author:Harris, Hamil R.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2001
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