The American Basketball Association plans to add an expansion team in Reno next year, the first professional basketball team in the city since 1983, the league announced Monday.
The Reno Rockers will become the eighth expansion team in the league, which intends to divide into two divisions for the 2004-05 season, ABA co-founder Joe Newman said.
The ownership group of the new Reno team is led by Sean Higgins, who currently is the general manager and coach of the ABA's Fresno HeatWave.
"Our goal has been to expand so that we could have divisional play next season to create regional rivalries and to lower travel costs," Newman said in a statement from Indianapolis.
"The addition of the Reno Rockers to the ABA certainly helps accomplish that goal. And we are very excited about this ownership group," he said.
Higgins said his ownership group includes former and current professional athletes, entertainers and entrepreneurs under the banner of Nine Sports Entertainment LLC.
Higgins said he has always dreamed of owning a professional basketball team.
"Where better to engage this dream than with the ABA?" Higgins said Monday.
The Reno Bighorns played in the Western Basketball Association in 1978-79 and the Continental Basketball Association in 1982-83.
"Reno is a wonderful city. It's on the West Coast. It's a great community," Higgins said.
"We'll be bringing an exciting spectator sport to an active sports and entertainment area. ... Reno loves basketball and the ABA offers a style of basketball at affordable prices that should get everyone excited - and that includes those who live there and tourists," he said.
Higgins has ties to the ABA dating to the days his father Earle played with the Indiana Pacers. Higgins himself played for the NBA New Jersey Nets - one of the original ABA teams - and won the ABA Championship while playing with the Detroit Dogs under coach George "Iceman" Gervin.
Current ABA teams are in Las Vegas, Kansas City, Fresno, Long Beach, Calif., New Jersey, Tijuana and Juarez, Mexico.
Dennis Rodman played two games for the Long Beach Jam before the ABA team released him Feb. 20 so he could try out for NBA teams.
Other expansion teams recently announced for next year are Nashville, Portland, Kentucky, Little Rock, Ark., Pittsburgh, Gwinnett, Ga., and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Operations for the Reno team will begin in early March at the conclusion of the current season, Newman said.
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