what if there is no NBA this season?


I had an interesting message today……The Rat City Rollers in Seattle are doing very well in Key Arena, crowds of 5000 to 7000 for their games.   Well we all know that, but my correspondent said it was because the Sonics had left town.

Well, certainly that helped, but people don’t pay $15 to $40 to come out and watch something because their basketball team has left.  The league has done a great job of presenting the game well, making the fans happy and creating a great family atmosphere.

So what if the NFL and/or the NBA sits out the next season?  People will be looking for sports and I think we have one that may fill the bill.  Well, the NFL has been resolved;  the NBA may not be.

What is interesting is that Roller Derby as a national sport could probably be sustained by just one of the high salaries these players get.  But don’t feel too sorry for Derby as they seem to be taking things into their own hands.

Yes, we know that many play in warehouses, or skating rinks, or venues with no fixed seating.  But in the last few years there has quietly been an upswing to better and larger venues.  This coming weekend Assassination City Roller Girls (from Dallas, don’t you love that name?) are playing their first match at the 10,000 seat Fairplex Arena.  So what I did, and this is by no means complete, was to try and get a sample of some of the Arenas that other leagues have also moved up to.

1st Bank Arena

Denver is interesting, the Derby Dolls play in the 7000 seat 1st Bank Arena.  I saw a game there last May and the way that great lighting, sound, and an amazing video playboard enhances the night was wonderful…..The Derby Dolls are presented by a promoter, as is the Champion Rocky Mountain Roller Girls at the Fillmore.  Can’t they play each other at the huge sports arena in Denver?

Kansas City now plays in the  Municipal Auditorium, Cincinnati at the Cincinnati Gardens, Milwaukee at the US Cellular Center, Everett Washington at the Comcast Center, Detroit at Cobo Arena, other leagues at Tucson Convention Center, Veterans Coliseum in Phoenix and State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis;  all venues where we played when we toured (except Everett, but including Key Arena) with Roller Derby when we were looking for 10,000 plus seat facilities.

And Windy City plays in the UIC Pavilion, a beautiful Arena where the National Championships were held.

Municipal Auditorium

Now I know there are dozens more out there, but this is what I got from my instant poll.  And what does this mean?

There is definitely a fan base, and it is growing monthly.  I know many leagues that are selling out their games are afraid to go to a larger venue because of the increased costs and other problems.  But it can and has been done.  And the games are so much better both for the players and the audience in a arena-like setting with good lights, sound and facilities for the customers.  Attendance always increases when you move to a larger venue if you have a good fan base.  Many people do not come out if they do not feel it will be a comfortable evening for them.

Is any of this useful to you?  You might want to use it if you are trying to expand in your market and you want to let either facilities or promoters know about the potential that has been proven in this sport.

UIC Pavilion

The Gotham Girls should be at the Garden or Meadowlands occasionally, The LA Derby Dolls, who sell out their own facility all the time would look great once or twice at Staples Center, St Louis should play at the Arena, Houston in the Arena, Philly Roller Girls in Wells Fargo Center,  the B.A.D. girls at Bill Graham Civic or Oracle Arena, and on and on.   Then you have a shot at self-sustaining leagues.

Whatcha think?

15 comments on “what if there is no NBA this season?

  1. Just heard from Adelaide down under…..they get over 3000 and I know that some of the other leagues have hit almost 5000.

  2. We are mobile’s Derby Darlings! Established in January 2011. I am the team manager and president, also skater, PR and what not. Our team consists of about 30 dependable members and 20 or so on and off. We have a police officer/coach and physical trainer that own a Tae Kwon Do training facility. We are learning martial arts as a workout regimen to stabilize our physical selves for skating in our soon to come bouts! I am thrilled to get derby out in the public and proudly represent all of our members and affiliates!!

  3. I think its time to start thinking about compensating skaters, refs, and nso’s. We pay to play. Which includes and not limited, gear, insurance and the time we take away from regular everyday working life.

  4. Cavina, my primary interest is accomplishing what you want for the players. They should be reimbursed at least, have adequate insurance, etc, and I would hope that if the leagues achieve more revenue or some smart entrepreneur(s) and/or promoters jump in this could happen sooner.

    And of course, if there were to be a professional game ahead, they would be paid.

  5. RCRG really does take care of its skaters. They have lowered dues, pay for uniforms, stipends for travel, feed us frequently at meetings. Gear and insurance being paid for would be a great savings for the skaters!

  6. Roller Derby has grown so fast in the past 5 years. The Phoenix area once only had 3 leagues and now has 8 leagues (lost count) not all fully up and functional but well on there way. As a new league Desert Dolls Roller Derby founded in May of 2009 managed to sell out both their demo bouts competing both nights with AZ Derby Dames who had just gone bank track, all of this before we even debuted our first full season in Sept 2010. It’s been a wild ride. The amount of girls interested in the sport amazes me as we are getting ready to add a 4th team and potentially a 5th for our second season. I also love that AZ has all different kinds of derby, all played by different rules with different styles (flat/banked). You also can’t beat the fact that year around and almost 3 weekends out of every month you can watch derby in AZ and some months there is derby to be watched every single weekend, all within a 40 mile radius of Phoenix. 80)

    ~Rats Love

  7. In the 90’s I was able to work as a game night staff member for the SJ Sharks media relations, this also gave me the opportunity to work the SJ Rhinos (former roller hockey team) and SJ Grizzlies (Indoor soccer), we would usually have attendance numbers of at about 2500. I wonder what would happen if teams like the Silicon Valley Roller Girls approached the HP pavilion to ask if they could have a bout their one time?

  8. “The Gotham Girls should be playing at the Garden or Meadowlands occasionally”

    Certainly… however, a huge problem we have here in New York City is that there simply are no “mid-level” venues to grow into.

    The Gotham Girls play in college gymnasiums seating about 1,200 people, where food options are limited and beer sales are forbidden.

    The next steps up are Madison Square Garden, the Prudential Center (smack in the middle of Newark, another WFTDA league’s home base), or (soon) the Barclays Center (Brooklyn) — each 15,000+ seat venues. There’s simply no 5,000-10,000 seat venue to grow into.

    It’s an intimidating six-figure investment to secure a date at the larger houses, and certainly a massive money loser when the ability to locally draw more than 1,500 people has never been tested.

    What the league wouldn’t give for a mid-sized venue convenient to public transit, to be able to take growth one reasonably safe step at a time…

  9. Because not everything sells out in the major arenas, especially these days, most have curtains or other screening to set up as half an arena. The costs for the buildings in New York area are unbelievable: in the late 60’s rent and “reimbursables” at the Garden game to $40,000 for us, with a top price ticket of $6. There is a way it could be done I do think.

  10. problem is, Jerry, that leagues DON’T want to go after sports fans such as myself. I suggested to a Montreal skater last year when they played Connecticut that they market the league to fans of Les Habitants, as hockey is a religion in Canada, and derby would be a natural complimentary sport.

    The skater’s response-that’s not the type of crowd we’re going after.

    Until derby leagues start marketing to EVERYONE, not just the hipsters, I see a glass ceiling in the future.

    • Donald, we are dealing with hundreds of leagues worldwide; some are outreaching to help with their costs, others feel they nourished their game and want to keep it as is. There is and will definitely be the split which has to be recognized.

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