Saying a team is on the verge of bankruptcy isn't something new; it's a part of the business. It's happened countless times in sports leagues spanning the globe, including this off-season for the Oita HeatDevils, a team with one of the worst attendance figures on a regular basis in the bj-league in recent seasons.
Home games often drew 500 or 600 or 700 fans, sometimes even less.
So the team cannot be making much money in ticket sales.
The team, however, didn't fold after last season despite pleas, posted on the team website, for fans to donate cash to help the team meet its financial goals.
Indeed, money came in and the HeatDevils are gearing up for another season as one of the league's six original teams (the Tokyo Apache have suspended operations, so only five of them are playing ball this season).
Will other teams follow suit and beg for fan "donations" online in the coming years?
We shall see.
Whatever. It may work.
Exhibit A: This past week, the HeatDevils signed 2009-10 MVP Wendell White (UNLV) to a contract for this season. He commanded a big salary to play for the Kyoto Hannaryz last season after helping the Hamamatsu Higashimikawa Phoenix win a championship during his MVP campaign.
So maybe there's money after all. Or enough now after a few fans shelled out some big bucks to "save the team." (Will those same fans attend games if the team starts losing a lot?
One wonders now, too, if Oita will do the same thing next off-season. Or, if things get bad, will there be another method to raise funds?
Nevertheless, it's a good thing for basketball fans that White is back in the league. He's an excellent player. And I'm convinced he'll become a fan favorite in Oita Prefecture.
Stay tuned to an interesting hoop tale, originating from Kyushu island.