Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pro Hoops, Cba Style, Could Arrive with Arena

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pro Hoops, Cba Style, Could Arrive with Arena

Article excerpt

Pop quiz: Name the world's oldest pro hoops league.

If you said the Continental Basketball Association, you probably also know that the CBA is the professional home of Melvin Booker of Mizzou and 7-footer Melvin Robinson of St. Louis University.

If a proposed 10,000-seat arena is built in Earth City by 1997, a CBA team may be an anchor tenant. Getting a club, valued at $1.5 million to $2.5 million, should not be a problem.

Commissioner Tom Valdiserri of the CBA, which has its headquartered here, said: "St. Louis would be a great market for us. With the Rams coming in, you've got every major pro sport here but pro basketball."

Frank Trulaske, managing partner of the arena project, said, "There's a strong group from St. Louis that already wants to bring a CBA team here for this season, but there's no place to put it."

Trulaske said that group prefers not to identify itself yet.

The CBA, the official development league of the National Basketball Association,

began in 1946 as the Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League. It later became the Eastern Basketball League.

By 1978, it went national and renamed itself the CBA. It remains anchored in small-town America.

Last season, the attendance leaders were South Dakota rivals Rapid City and Sioux Falls. Each drew just over 5,000 fans per game.

The CBA recently has emulated its Triple A hockey counterpart, the International Hockey League, in seeking larger pastures. Over the past two years, the CBA has moved to Chicago; Hartford, Conn.; Pittsburgh; and Mexico City.

Its 15 teams - including Hartford, which folded in midseason and since reformed - averaged a record 3,766 fans a game last season.

The rest of the CBA family includes Fort Wayne, Ind.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Oklahoma City; Omaha, Neb.; Rockford, Ill; Shreveport, La.; Yakima, Wash.; the Tri-City area of Washington; and the Quad-City area of Illinois and Iowa. Yakima beat Pittsburgh for the 1995 CBA title.

Quad City encompasses Davenport and Burlington, Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline, Ill. …

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