More Thoughts on Today’s Announcement

I threw the last post together in haste as soon as I read the press release from the Rainmen but there are some more thoughts about what exactly this announcement means after the jump:

– Choosing leave now instead of after the play offs means two main things: no play offs, and no all-star game.  I feel bad that Crookshank won’t be able to go dunk on people at the all-star game, and that Quebec will have on less team there for the play offs.  I think Quebec are a class act frachise and have a good relationship with Halifax.  However, I am sure that not having a 2:00pm weekday game with out of town teams as part of a triple header is not going to hurt the Kebs financially.

– Time for a logo change!  No more mysterious cloud man dunking an ABA ball.

–  The D-League is still a definate dream and we have no idea how close the Rainmen are to this goal.  As fans I think we should brace ourselves for the PBL/CBA/Some merger of the two.  I just feel like thisD-League thing is possible, but still unlikely.  The $1 Million expansion fee combined with higher costs, crazy travel and the stamp of approval from the NBA mean that a lot of things will need to fall into place to make this work.

–  The Herald have a story on the website about the move, plus Chad Lucas has a blog entry with some of his thoughts.

– Who do the Rainmen become affiliated with if they get into the D-League?  It doesn’t have to be geographically close, but for marketing and logistics reasons one would hope that it is.  Maine and New Hampshire have definately shown interest in the Celtics affiliation, Toronto wants to put their affiliate in Ontario (and have even talked about owning the team), David Stern has mentioned putting a team in Harlem as the D-League affiliate of the Knicks, Atlanta will have a team in the suburbs as the Hawks affiliate in a few years.  So it is safe to say that all three of those teams are out of the running – leaving such eastern powers as the 76ers, The Nets (Vince Carter!!!!! I’d slit my wrists if he had anything to do with Halifax), Wizards, and good team Detroit.  Detroit is probably the best bet given reasonable proximity (though not actually anywhere close to Halifax) and Livingston being from Michigan.  Ironically, the only way that Halifax would be viable would be if NY, Ontario, Atlanta and New England all got teams in order to make travel more realistic. 

– Hell will freeze over if Rick Lewis is a head coach in the D-League.  I want Halifax to lure Will Voigt up here.

–  Is Halifax striking out on its own without Vermont, Quebec and Manchester?  We know that Manchester have been openly talking D-League since before their season started so I don’t see it as a betrayal of those teams.  Vermont’s loyalty to the league and its below regulation court may have been limiting the options available to the Heaves.

– Not knowing what league the team is in for next year means that ticket packages can’t go on sale yet.  Let’s see how the Rainmen manage to make cash flow over the summer without being able to sell ticket packages.

–  As much as the ABA stinks there are some teams I will regret not seeing play next year.  Vermont and their fans are the class of minor league basketball, Quebec played Halifax hard every game and featured some former CIS guys, Manchester were perfect villains, and Atlanta turned out to be a good team and a great organization.  Oh well.


2 thoughts on “More Thoughts on Today’s Announcement

  1. I really think the Rainmen will be a good fit in the D-League, despite some potential obstacles. Why? Here is a quick SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis:

    – Erie, Pennsylvania was just announced as the latest D-League expansion team for the 2008-09 season. The Erie metro area has a population of 281,000. The Halifax metro area has a population of about 385,000. I think we can support a D-League team if the owners in Erie think they can make a go of it, with a much smaller city. Ron Sertz, the director of basketball ops in Erie, seems to be the man behind minor-league sports in Erie. From what I can tell, Mr. Levingston seems to be making connections with guys who are the Ron Sertz’s here in Halifax that are obviously crucial to a professional team’s success in a small market like ours. STRENGTH. The Rainmen front office has learned a lot from this year’s experience and the population of Halifax can and will support a brand name like the NBA.

    – To get a sense of what ticket prices may be like in the D-League, here is a link to the Erie franchise:

    The prices look to be about 50% higher than what our tickets were in Halifax this season. Erie will have eight different seating packages available, from “Hollywood Seats” and “Courtside Suites” to “Endzone” and “Corner” seats. I think slicing up the arena in so many categories is a smart way to provide the opportunity for fans of all economic means to enjoy the game. OPPORTUNITY. Here is a chance to really fill up the Metro Centre, with a variety of price points which create demand for premium seating and give more people a chance to afford bringing their whole family to a game with the lower-cost seating choices.

    – I really like the Season Ticket Holder Privileges part of the Erie ticket price program and I really hope the Rainmen have something along those lines next year. OPPORTUNITY. There is so much that can be done in terms of promotion next season. While ticket prices may be higher than when we were in the ABA, the product will be better.

    – I just realized that the Rainmen intro montage with the piano music and shots of the Rainmen is the same music and concept that the NBA used in their Where Amazing Happens campaign. Coincidence? Can’t be. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. STRENGTH. The NBA will have to be impressed with the Rainmen organization.

    – In terms of players returning next year, that will likely depend on a few factors such as which league we will be in, who the coaching staff will be, how many roots the players have made here i.e. girlfriends, and of course pay levels. We can’t expect the players to put the rest of their lives on hold if the pay is not commensurate with the commitment to come to Halifax to work. THREAT, assuming we want at least some of our players to return. I think we know who we want back!

    – NBA Commissioner David Stern stated in 2005 that he planned to expand the league to 15 teams and to develop it into an NBA farm system, with each D-League team would have 2 NBA affiliate teams. Recently announced expansion teams in Reno, Nevada and Erie, Pennsylvania make it 14 teams. WEAKNESS. If the NBA is not receptive to opening up the Northeast, we can’t make them. The NBA already closed down 2 of its teams in the southeast when they decided to expand the league westward. Does the Northeast fit into their plans?

    I figure the NBA will not expand too quickly, they have a very valuable product and diluting it too much by expanding the D-League without strict control over who gets a team is risky for them. This ain’t Joe Newman’s ABA! A total of 11 D-League teams have either folded or moved in the league’s 7 seasons. Considering the nature of minor league sports teams, this is a pretty respectable retention rate. By comparison, check out the Wikipedia entry for the ABA:

    Check out how many teams are in the league this year and how many are defunct or have left for other leagues. Interestingly, the Rainmen are already off the list of this year’s teams.

    – I will repeat my concern over the lack of D-League teams in the Northeast US. Erie is only 93 miles from Cleveland, who appears to be their NBA affiliate. Erie will be the closest D-League team to Halifax and it’s over 500 miles away from Boston, let alone Nova Scotia. Unless the D-League expands into the Northeast in a meaningful way, our team’s travel costs will be exorbitant and so will our competition’s.
    WEAKNESS. This may or may not be a problem, depending how many other Northeast teams are able to make the jump to the D-League. However, the answer to that question may be that no other teams can or will do it.

    – A lack of nearby teams and therefore higher costs will translate into higher ticket prices. What is the magic price point for Halifax fans? I don’t know, but I’ll bet that a price any more than $20-25 for an average seat will be perceived as too expensive. THREAT. If prices are too high, the fans won’t come.

    Hmmm, pretty even SWOT so far, with 2 of each category. The Strengths and Opportunities seem to be fairly well-identified items that relate to the Rainmen’s existing organization, while the Weaknesses and Threats arise from unknown factors such as what will happen with ticket prices, who will be our competition and can we afford to travel beyond the US Northeast to play? If details on these latter issues become known, then this analysis can be firmed up to show whether or not the D-League is viable for the Rainmen.

    By the way, this is all on my blog too. Feel free to visit and comment.

  2. Interesting News

    Crookshank still off to all-star game
    Metronews – Halifax

    Eric Crookshank will still compete in the American Basketball Association All-Star Game this weekend, even after the Halifax Rainmen dropped out of the league yesterday.

    ABA chief executive officer Joe Newman welcomed Crookshank’s participation in the event in Barre, Vt. Crookshank, a flashy 6-foot- 8 forward, averaged 20.1 points and 12.3 rebounds per game this season.

    “It’s a great opportunity,” Crookshank said. “I have family going that haven’t seen me play in three years. They’re flying in from Atlanta, and I have friends in the game.”

    Crookshank said he’ll be “practising all kinds of tricks” to prepare for the slam-dunk contest, and has high hopes for the game. “MVP of the all-star game … it will be something good to have on my resume,” Crookshank said with a smile.

    >> Rainmen owner Andre Levingston said Rick Lewis would stay on as head coach if the team’s bid to join the NBA Development League is successful. “This is my coach,” he said.

    >> Levingston and Newman parted ways amicably. Levingston thanked Newman for the “opportunity to own a professional basketball team,” and Newman said he “had hoped things would work out,” and “wished the Rainmen well.”

    >> Levingston said the Rainmen name will stay the same, calling it “well-branded” and saying “the kids love it.”

    >> Levingston said he had not talked to the D-League or any NBA teams prior to making yesterday’s announcement.

    >> The Erie Times-News reported yesterday that the DLeague’s expansion franchise fee is more than $1 million, which dwarfs the $20,000 it cost the Rainmen to gain entry into the ABA.

    >> Manchester, N.H., and Portland, Me., are reportedly vying for D-League teams in the hopes of affiliating with the Celtics.

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