Two teams jump for Everett court

EVERETT – Two minor league basketball teams are throwing elbows for a chance to make the Everett Events Center its home court.

The American Basketball Association and the Continental Basketball Association each have team owners who would like to play ball in Everett.

The ABA announced this week that an expansion team in Everett is a sure thing, and that the team hopes to play at the Everett Events Center, said Everett franchise owner John Dominguez.

Not so fast, said CBA’s Western Washington franchise owner Michael Tuckman. His team, and the CBA, are first in line, he said.

Tuckman said he first approached the Everett Public Facilities District four years ago with his desire to put a team into the new arena.

Everett Events Center officials said they’ve just started to mull over the idea. If they do decide to bring basketball to the arena, there’s only room for one team.

So which basketball league will it be? “It’s about equal at this point,” said Fred Safstrom, Everett Public Facilities District Executive Director. Both groups have met with arena officials, but it’s gone no further than that, he said.

Safstrom said he needs to evaluate each team’s ownership and financial situation, fan and attendance potential and the proposed calendar of games.

Safstrom said such minor league teams can live and die depending on the viability of their local ownership.

“We want to make sure that anyone who approaches us is a good, solid owner,” said Kim Bedier, the events center’s general manager. “We want to do what’s best for Everett.”

It could also be that the arena doesn’t want a basketball team, concerned it could affect the Silvertips hockey team and eliminate dates for other kinds of entertainment, she said.

The ABA’s recent announcement of its Everett expansion team caught Everett Events Center officials off guard. The ABA said the announcement was intended to drum up fans and investors.

Team owner John Dominguez, an Everett native now living in California, said he is confident the ABA will have a team in Everett. He wants to have a “name the team” contest for Everett fans later this summer and team tryouts in the spring.

The ABA is looking at several other Everett-area venues, though Dominguez declined to say which ones.

ABA Chairman Joe Newman said the rapidly expanding league has seven teams now, but by 2005 will have more than 50.

“I would like to be in the best facility available in the Everett area,” Newman said. “We’re as enthusiastic about adding in Everett as we would be about New York City.”

CBA franchise owner Tuckman thinks Everett residents would enjoy having a local basketball team. He approached city officials about a team before the Everett Events Center was built, he said.

Tuckman said he was told the basketball team would have to wait until 2005, when the new Silvertips team was well established.

“Hey – I’ve been here,” Tuckman said. “I’m ready to rent 24 (game) dates a year.”

Tuckman’s CBA team, the Bellevue Nighthawks, played last season at Bellevue Community College. The college facility wasn’t available for enough game dates this season, so the team has become inactive.

He wants to move his team to the arena this fall and call it the Everett Admirals.

The CBA’s reputation and his “deep pockets” are more reliable and tested than the ABA, Tuckman said.

ABA Chairman Newman said he’d prefer not to focus on any venue competition with the CBA, but rather on his own league and its success.

“I have to be concerned with building a strong league of quality teams with an interesting game,” Newman said.

Reporter Jennifer Warnick: 425-339-3429 or jwarnick@heraldnet.com.

Continental Basketball Association (CBA)

Teams: Eight, including the Idaho Stampede and the Yakima Sun Kings.

History: Organized in 1946, before the NBA.

Former NBA great Isaiah Thomas bought the league in 1998. The league declared bankruptcy in 2000. The league is now out of bankruptcy and teams are owned locally.

More information: www.cbahoopsonline.com

American Basketball Association (ABA)

Teams: Seven, but plans to expand to more than 50 teams in the next two years. Current teams include the Fresno Heatwave, Long Beach Jam, Tijuana Diablos and the Las Vegas Rattlers.

History: The ABA had its first run from 1967 to 1976, when the four strongest teams (New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs) joined the NBA.

The league was reincarnated in 2001.

More information: www.abalive.com

Continental Basketball Association (CBA)

Teams: Eight, including the Idaho Stampede and the Yakima Sun Kings, not including the currently inactive Bellevue Nighthawks.

History: Organized in 1946, before the NBA.

Former NBA great Isaiah Thomas bought the league in 1998. The league declared bankruptcy in 2000. The league is now out of bankruptcy and teams are owned locally.

More information: www.cbahoopsonline.com.

American Basketball Association (ABA)

Teams: Seven, but plans to expand to more than 50 teams in the next two years. Current teams include the Fresno Heatwave, Long Beach Jam, Tijuana Diablos, Las Vegas Rattlers and the St. Louis Rottweilers.

History: The ABA had its first run from 1967 to 1976, when the four strongest teams (New York Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs) joined the NBA. The league was reincarnated in 2001.

More information: www.abalive.com.

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