Ever since the American Basketball Association merged with the NBA and selected the Kentucky Colonels rival, Indiana Pacers, as a new expansion team for the league despite the Colonels being overwhelming favorites due to their dominance in the league since its inception every so often we see a new possible pro basketball team story for the Derby City.
It seems that every time a team is looking for a new home or commissioner David Stern is looking to expand the league our city’s name comes up inevitably. Much of this has to do with the bluegrass state’s obvious obsession with the game, however does fanatical college basketball fans equate with pro basketball fans?
I don’t know, in truth one needs to look no farther than the state of Florida where college football reigns supreme. Despite that the two teams based out of the southeastern state, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins consistently have trouble drawing a fan base, and as such the Dolphins have struggled since Dan Marino left the team, and the Bucs are consistently unremarkable.
However, with memories of the Colonels and that team’s economic success one might be inclined to think that that wouldn’t be the case for the city of Louisville. As for myself, I don’t know if Louisville will ever support another professional basketball team- rather than offer conjecture on this I thought I’d do some sleuthing let’s say, and consider some of the many attempts at an NBA team for the ‘Ville.
Back in 2001 the Charlotte Hornets were looking to relocate, after a dispute occurred between the team and the North Carolina city due to the building of a new arena. Despite seriously looking into the city NBA officials questioned moving the team to the Bluegrass due to financial reasons, during this time officials were also courting Memphis. This was prior to the Grizzlies beginning play at their Tennessee venue, after a lot of discussion the team moved to New Orleans becoming the New Orleans Hornets.
That same year Louisville again found themselves in a war against Memphis for an NBA team, this time the Vancouver Grizzlies who were looking to find a new home in the States. The simple fact there was that Louisville couldn’t compete with the capital raised by Memphis.
More recently in an article from February of last year, Stern’s interest for a Louisville team was piqued when a collection of billionaires from a collection of countries offered to fund a new team in town. In fact, Stern and the backers became excited when the possibilities of international televised basketball out of Freedom Hall came up. In addition to the foreign backers a collection of in-state investors were lined up as well in Lexington, Bowling Green, and of course Louisville to name a few. Further this article seemed to indicate that Stern would be interested in getting a Louisville based team out immediately, obviously this has yet to happen.
In truth, I’ve just discussed a few of the many attempts Louisville has made to return pro-basketball to the city.
Image courtesy of Midwest Sports Fans