Pro basketball will survive in Hawaii if managed properly
The American Basketball Association says it will return to Hawaii with a team owned by a Honolulu businessman.
HAWAII'S last attempt to launch a professional basketball team two years ago was a disaster, but a Honolulu businessman gives persuasive assurance he has taken measures to achieve success. The American Basketball Association's chief executive officer was embarrassed by the airball, and his support of the new attempt is encouraging.
The Hawaii Mega Force team assigned to the ABA collapsed in December 2005 after only two games. Players were promised but received no pay, and team owner Orrys Williams was barred from further league association. "I just misjudged Orrys Williams," Joe Newman, the league's CEO, said afterward.
The new enterprise -- Hawaii Basketball Inc. -- is headed by Andrew Moss, a Honolulu wholesaler of power equipment who recently has represented players seeking contracts in the ABA and foreign leagues. He said he believes his Hawaii Hurricanes will create more opportunities for players graduating from the state's universities.
Working with Nevada banker Ira Harge Jr., the team's vice president and son of a former ABA player, Moss said he found 11 investors, including from Japan, who put forth enough to cover expenses for the first year of operation. He said the Mega Force team lacked such capital.
"They weren't handling money properly," Moss said. "They basically did not have the backing to run the team ... They did not focus on corporate sponsors, and that's the only way to do this the correct way."
According to Moss, mainland ABA teams incur average yearly expenditures of $400,000 to $500,000, while a similarly run operation in Hawaii would cost twice that amount because of travel costs.
Newman said in a news release that problem has been solved by a major airline's sponsorship. Moss declined to identify the airline until negotiations are completed, probably next week.
Other travel-related costs will be reduced through sponsorships by hotel chains, Moss said. He said agreements with those and other sponsors and with Neal Blaisdell Arena as the home court, along with other details, will be announced within the next month.
Moss said his Hurricanes will compete against nine West Coast teams, each to make a single trip to Honolulu for two games, and Hawaii will play them twice on the mainland. The season runs from November to mid-March.
Nearly 60 teams compete nationally in the ABA, and Moss said Newman supports his proposal that Honolulu host the 2009 national championship game. "Everybody in the industry knows, in basketball, Hawaii fans are the best," Moss said.