ABL Info

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Little Girls Need Big Girls to Look Up To

The American Basketball League, launched in September 1995, accomplished what it set out to do: establish the world's premier women's basketball league and give America's best players an opportunity to play professionally in their own country. Icons of the women's game--Teresa Edwards, Jennifer Azzi, Dawn Staley, Nikki McCray, Debbie Black--could finally stay home and play the game each has honed for years in front of family, friends, one another, and against one another.

Playing in relative obscurity in European, Asian, Middle Eastern and South American leagues, these female athletes and hundreds like them can now pursue their dreams, while providing exciting entertainment for basketball fans across this country.

Thanks to the ABL, "little girls have big girls to look up to," "big girls" who accept that they are role models to all young girls and boys on every playground court and YMCA in America.

If You Build it, They Will Come

On the ABL's Opening Night, skeptics and supporters looked on with the same baited breath: Would this upstart ABL actually tipoff and become a reality?

The answer was not far behind. Three teams sold-out their opening night games (Atlanta, San Jose and Seattle) and New England and Portland each drew over 8,700 for their openers. Throughout the year, attendance ran nearly 20 percent above the pre-season projection 3,000 fans per game. In fact, attendance surged in the second half of the season, exhibiting fan approval and an increase of new fans. In February, over a span of 29 games, the league-wide average rose to nearly 4,200 per game. By the conclusion of the 160-game regular season, the league averaged 3,536 fans per game.

So who was coming to these games? According to ABL arena marketing surveys, the typical ABL fan is a young, well-educated, upscale woman. Leaguewide, approximately two-thirds of ABL fans are women, while 58 percent overall are between the ages of 25-44. Eighty-five percent have at least a technical or associate degree, including 24 percent with a graduate or professional degree. Twenty-four percent earn $75,000 or more in annual salary, while 51 percent bring home $45,000 or more per year.

Despite the demographic, statistical differences, their are common traits among these fans: ABL fans are boisturous and enthusiatic. ABL fans are knowledgable about the game of basketball. And ABL fans remain steadfast in their seats until the final buzzer, whether the games are decided by two points or 20.

New England topped the team attendance chart, averaging 5,008 fans per outing. The Blizzard also hosted five of the league's top nine crowds, including a record-11,873 vs. San Jose on January 25, and 10,477 vs. Columbus on Nov. 23.

If You Build It, They Will Sponsor

The founders of the ABL knew it couldn't be done alone. The gargantuan task of realizing their dream of a women's professional league in the U.S. needed corporate support. Coming to their aid, the major sponsors of the league-Reebok, Lady Foot Locker, Nissan, and Phoenix Home Life Insurance Company-offered their support as well as their services to the ABL. Working overtime, these four sponsors are committed to make the ABL a success in every possible way.

Reebok, a long-time champion of women's sports, became the league's Founding Sponsor, joining forces with the ABL in June, 1996. Reebok outfits four of the eight ABL teams (Atlanta, Colorado, New England and San Jose) and provided the ABL All-Stars with warm-ups and uniforms.

"As a founding sponsor of the ABL, Reebok is excited about the success of the league and is looking forward to working with the ABL in growing women's basketball. As a pioneer of the women's sports movement, Reebok is committed to providing opportunities for women and a league that provides role models for young girls." -Jo Harlow Vice President of U.S. Marketing for Reebok

The ABL applauds in national sponsors, who have helped make the league a reality.

What Lies Ahead - The ABL's Second Season

With the inaugural season in the record books, attention now turns to the ABL's second season, the 1997-98 campaign. The league is looking to expand from eight to 10 teams next season, with the caveat that suitable markets are located. Similar to last season, there will be a player evaluation process, but unlike the 570-player tryout in Atlanta last May/June, this year's will be an invitation-only Player Combine from April 24-27, 1997, at the University of San Francisco's Koret Center. Those invited include but are not limited to top graduating seniors, players from overseas, and replacement players who participated in the 1996-97 season. Following the Combine, the ABL Draft will take place May 5 via conference call to each team city.

Rosters will be expanding to 11 players next year, giving teams more flexibility if a player is injured, and if expansion takes place, the schedule will increase by a minimum of four games (from 40 to 44, including 20 home games to 22). Negotiations are taking place to resign for next season current ABL players, top graduating seniors and other players.

League Organization

The league was organized as a single entity that owns all the teams and pays the players' salaries. The ABL's founders Gary Cavalli, Anne Cribbs, Steve Hams, and Bobby Johnson have extensive sports, management, marketing and business experience. They were drawn together by a common interest in women's basketball and a desire to create a first-class pro league in the United States that brings America's best players home.

For more information about the ABL, please refer to the following sections:

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