International Basketball League expanding to county?

  • By Scott M. Johnson / Herald Writer
  • Tuesday, June 20, 2006 9:00pm
  • Sports

First there was baseball, followed by hockey, and then football.

And now, Snohomish County may be on the verge of adding basketball to its mix of minor-league entertainment options.

Nathan Mumm, a 1992 graduate of Marysville-Pilchuck High School, has bought the rights to an expansion team in the International Basketball League. The team, which he hopes to locate in Everett, is scheduled to begin play next March.

Mumm planned to meet with officials at the Everett Events Center today to discuss the possibility of his team playing there, but he added that cities such as Marysville, Lynnwood, Edmonds and Monroe could provide alternative options if no agreement can be reached.

“I believe minor league basketball is exploding right now,” said Mumm, whose team will have an appropriate nickname of the Explosion. “For a city like Everett that has a facility like the Events Center (to) not have basketball is a shame. There are a lot of venues (in the IBL) that are one-eighth the quality of the one Everett already has.”

IBL media relations manager Trask Frost confirmed the expansion plans, saying that an official announcement would be made sometime next month.

Events Center general manager Kim Bedier has heard about the Explosion, although she said Tuesday that her only contact with Mumm thus far was a telephone call to set up today’s meeting. “We’re just in the information-seeking stages right now,” Bedier said.

When asked about the prospects of adding another sport to the facility, she added: “I think Everett’s a basketball town. The only thing is that (the IBL) season is challenging. It’s March through July, and obviously, that overlaps with hockey season. We’ve been fortunate with the Silvertips, so we’ve grown to expect a long season. But without meeting with Nathan, I can’t say where that stands.”

Mumm said he does not expect the WHL season to be much of a concern because his league does not start its schedule until March 31. He also said he can work around the schedule of the arenafootball2 league’s Everett Hawks, who could conceivably conflict with the Explosion’s 13-game home schedule.

“I could see the Hawks playing on a Friday night or Saturday night and our games being on Thursdays or Sundays, or something like that,” Mumm said. “We have a flexible schedule.”

Mumm, an assistant coach with the Seattle Mountaineers of the 2-year-old IBL this season, will serve as owner and coach of the Explosion. He said he already has 12 investors from the county as well as a vice president of sales, a marketing director and 10 players who are under contract, although the names can’t be released until the current IBL season ends on July 1.

The IBL currently has 24 teams split between East and West divisions. The Explosion would be one of seven expansion teams and would play only West Division teams – among them Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver (Wash.) and Portland – during the regular season.

The IBL’s most famous alumnus is current Phoenix Suns guard Raja Bell.

The success of IBL franchises vary, and Mumm said that the Seattle team for which he currently works has struggled to find its niche. The expansion Mountaineers drew a total of just 750 fans in their only two home games, both of which were played at Bellevue Community College.

But Mumm is optimistic that Everett’s recent history of supporting minor league teams will make for a perfect fit. He pointed toward the IBL franchise in Salem, Ore., that averaged, in his words, “between 2,500 and 3,200” per game last season.

“We hope to bring in 3,500 to 5,000 per night,” Mumm said.

Mumm also acknowledged that attendance would be severely affected if his team can’t get a deal done with the Events Center.

The 32-year-old Mumm would not give a specific dollar amount that he paid for the Everett franchise, but he said that the operational costs for a typical IBL team is about $150,000 per season.

“It’s not a high-risk investment,” Mumm said, “but it could be a high-reward one if it takes off.”

The Events Center’s Bedier, who has already seen the Silvertips and Hawks find their niches in Everett, is eager to hear more about Mumm’s plan.

“It’s a huge sports town,” Bedier said of Everett and its surrounding area. “Our family shows do well for pretty much the same reason. Whenever you drive anywhere in Snohomish County, there’s building going on; it’s one of fastest-growing areas in the country.

“Anytime you have an area growing like that, you have people looking for affordable entertainment. All the things we have now, including the Silvertips and Hawks, have proven to be entertaining at a reasonable price.”

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