June 20, 2007
Albany -It didn't take long for Albany Civic Center director John Mazzola to hear back from a group wanting to put an American Basketball Association team in the city this fall.
After faxing his proposal to team president Stephanie Roach just before 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, Mazzola says Roach notified him by e-mail at 10:35 p.m. Tuesday night that the city's latest proposal had been rejected.
Mazzola says that means the proposed ABA team, the Albany Thunderdawgs, will not be playing in the city for the coming season.
While Roach did not give a specific reason why the city's latest proposal was not accepted, in Tuesday night's e-mail, Mazzola believes money was the primary factor.
The Thunderdawgs ownership group proposed a fee of $4000 a game to play 18 games at the Civic Center.
Mazzola said it would cost the city approximately 87000 for labor and other expenses incurred per game.
The city's last offer included what Mazzola called a sponsorship advertisting grant of 25,200 which he says eliminated the minimum rental fee for the Civic Center.
The grant he says would leave the Thunderdawgs having to pay almost $7000 per game.
A 3000 dollar gap may not seem like much to argue over but when it is multiplied by 18 then the difference jumps to an estimated $54,000.
Mazzola says he was not going to agree to a deal that added to the Civic Center's operating deficit and Mazzola says he will not add to the burden of city taxpayers.
Mazzola said "The part that makes it a gray area for team ownership is they will go into some cities that have deep pockets and are able to subsidize teams at a greater level than us. I will be honest with you. I think a $25,000 sponsorship grant in this community is a pretty decent amoutn of money for a producer to receive."
Mazzola said a minor conflict in the negotiations was scheduling.
Many of the weekend's the Thunderdawgs group wanted to schedule home games were definitely or tenatively booked for other events.
In an e-mail to WALB Stephanie Roach says the city and her ownership group were unable to reach an agreement that would benefit both parties.
Roach says her groups would start negotiations with other cities.
This is the second failed attempt by an ABA ownership group to play in Albany in the last two years.
Mazzola says the city was close to signing a lease with a group known as the Southwest Georgia 36ers last year but Mazzola says the deal fell through when the group lost its financial backing.