GR Flight Ready To Land Here

September 24, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — It looks like the business of professional basketball is bouncing back to the city, as International Basketball League Commissioner Mikal Duilio said the owners of the new local franchise would be identified next week.

The Grand Rapids Flight, the name of the new franchise, is reportedly one of 14 teams that have committed to play in the league’s inaugural season. So far, the Flight is the only Michigan franchise listed to begin play next spring. But Duilio said an ownership group in Flint was considering buying into the IBL.

So what does it generally cost to own and operate an IBL franchise? The league answers that question at its Web site where it has posted a 31-page business plan. Part of that plan offers revenue and expense estimates for a franchise’s first two 20-game seasons.

The league reports that revenue should total $91,000 in season one. In season two, revenue should reach $136,000. Ticket sales should account for $56,000 and $84,000, respectively, in years one and two. Duilio said the average cost of a ticket should be $7.

The revenue stream listed by the league has other income coming from sponsorships, tours, clinics and camps, promotions and secondary events, but does not include any revenue from broadcast rights, merchandising or concession sales.

The IBL said expenses in the first year should total $84,582 and $91,382 in year two.

The biggest expense was the $17,000 yearly rights fee to the league. After that fee, an owner’s next biggest expenses should be for commissions on ticket sales and for players, who should be former high school and local college stars. Both estimates totaled $29,360.

No cost estimates were offered for court rental, merchandise or concessions.

According to the league’s figures, an owner should have a profit of $6,418 in the first season, and $44,618 in the second season. The figures are based on a franchise being part of a four-team cluster, meaning that four IBL franchises would be within a tank of gas of each other.

The IBL plans to start playing in April with the season running into June. Each franchise will play 20 games, split evenly with 10 on the road and 10 at home. Duilio, who founded the fledgling league, said a franchise would only have to fly once a season.

“The schedule is so efficient, it’s ridiculous. It’s the most efficient schedule that’s been created,” he said.

Franchises in Peoria, Ill., and the Ohio cities of Akron, Youngstown and Dayton are the closest to Grand Rapids right now. Others that have committed are in Washington, Oregon, Missouri and California and in Vancouver, British Columbia

When Duilio came here in June, he emphasized that placing a franchise in the city was vital for the league.

“I want to make a team come here,” he said. “The city is important.”    

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