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CBA aims for NBA status.

Terdema L. Ussery II is preparing to use a full court press to improve the image of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA), while lifting ti to fiscal stability. A year after becoming the first black commissioner of a major professional sports league, Ussery is negotiating a new agreement with the National Basketball Association (NBA) that should have the two leagues working closer together than ever before. At press time, the details of the new contract with the NBA were still being negotiated. If completed, Ussery says the deal "will be much more expansive" than the three-year, $2.7 million player/referee developmental contract the two leagues signed in 1989.

The proposal includes a joint licensing and merchandising agreement that would allow each league to market its teams' paraphernalia in the other league's arenas. It also includes plans for executive development and coach development programs as well as an international marketing campaign for both leagues.

NBA commissioner David Stern says, "The CBA has firmly established itself as a highly competitive league and as an integral part of professional basketball." In fact, for the last 12 years, the 46-year-old CBA has been the developmental league of the NBA. But for Ussery, 33, the challenge is to elevate the 17-team league close to NBA-status.

His main objective is to raise the net worth of each team to $800,000 by 1995--the year he has also set for expansion. For the first time, he has mandated that the league collect and closely monitor financial figures. "My goal is to make the league a stable business," says the former CBA deputy commissiner, who is also a corporate and entertainment lawyer.

CBA teams are estimated to be worth between $500,000 and $600,000 each. Franchises are located in small, non-NBA markets. They play in arenas that seat from 4,500 to 7,000 fans. Last year, the league entertained a record 1.59 million fans, with average team attendance of 3,500 per game. With attendance growing and tighter fiscal constraints in place, Ussery believes the CBA can become very lucrative. "Four teams are truly turning a profit, but not as much of a profit as can be made [league-wide]," he says.

Ussery will also work to change the perception of the CBA as a place where all the players are either "over the hill," have a history of substance abuse or are not good enough for prime-time basketball. The hope is that an improved image and financial adjustments will signal a new time in the CBA.
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Title Annotation:Continental Basketball Association; National Basketball Association
Author:Green, Thomas (American general)
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Apr 1, 1992
Words:422
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