Spokane Journal of Business

Local semi-pro basketball team made of ex-Zags imagined

New league CEO to visit to gauge interest in team here

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David Magley, president and CEO of the upstart North American Premier Basketball league, envisions a semipro team here made up of former collegiate-area players.

“There are markets across the country that I believe would love to have the opportunity to watch a high level of basketball in their communities at a reasonable price,” Magley says.

Pointing at Gonzaga’s 6,000-seat McCarthey Athletic Center, Magley says the fact every game is sold out means the overwhelming majority of Zags fans will have never had a chance to watch former Bulldogs players play live.

“Don’t you think Spokane would still welcome a chance to watch their beloved Zags playing for a chance to make it overseas or to the NBA?” Magley says.

Magley spent the last four years as a coach, general manager, and finally the commissioner of the National Basketball League Canada. With his experience, Magley and a group of business partners announced at the beginning of July their plans to start the new league Jan. 1 of next year.

Tryouts for roster positions will be held around the U.S., including one in Canada, starting Aug. 19. Seattle will host a tryout on Sept. 30, Magley says.

Six unidentified cities have already been selected and will be announced to the public within the next month, he says.

Magley, who lives in Indianapolis, will be in Spokane Aug. 11 and 12 to meet with potential owners about starting a team here for the upcoming season. Magley declines to reveal who he’ll be meeting with. 

Financial qualifications for an ownership group requires a net worth of $2.5 million. Player salaries would range from $1,500 to $5,000 per month in addition to a separate housing stipend. There are no shortage of men around the country who would play for modest incomes to have a chance to keep their athletic careers alive, he says.

“An ownership group could charge $15 for a ticket, and if you can draw 2,000 people per game to your venue you’re at least going to break even,” he says.

The key, however, is the response from community leaders, including the business community, he says.

“It’s always about the people. The goal is to have the franchise and the players working with their brand, the brand of the companies that are willing to become sponsors of the team,” Magley says.

“As for the players, we want to have them in the schools talking to kids about making good life choices; talking about the things that inspired and motivated them when they were their ages,” he says.

Ownership groups in Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, have submitted applications to join the new league. Magley envisions the first season to have an eight- to 12-team league competing from January to May. If successful, Magley foresees the league being able to expand by four to six teams per year.

Magley, 57, had a brief stint with the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers after college. However, the majority of his professional experience came as a member of the semipro Albany Patroons of the now defunct Continental Basketball Association (CBA).

The CBA was U.S. basketball’s predominant professional minor league from 1946 until 2009. What helped kill that league was when the National Basketball Association began taking a more proactive role and developing young talent, he says.

“Yakima, Boise, Missoula, those cities all had CBA at some point with strong support from their communities,” Magley says. 

He sees placing teams in as many as 100 cities across the U.S.

“Seattle, Vancouver, Yakima, Las Vegas … yes, Spokane could put a team in that same division,” Magley says.

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