ABA set to return to Pittsburgh in 2011; Bruce spearheads operations

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by Malik Vincent
For New Pittsburgh Courier

Pittsburgh, along with the Raleigh-Durham area, will welcome new American Basketball Association franchises beginning in the 2011 season with the addition of the Carolina Jaguars and Pennsylvania Pride.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be bringing this to Pittsburgh,” said Aubrey Bruce, president of the McKeesport-based SeaStorm Sports & Entertainment Group and a New Pittsburgh Courier sports columnist. “There are many things in the works and we are working tirelessly with the league to conform with its guidelines.”

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AUBREY BRUCE

Normally, the startup costs for an ABA team is $10,000. Since there are two teams that are being implemented in the league, the two parties struck a bargaining agreement that sold both teams to SeaStorm and its associates for $5,000 each. This is also due to the fact that the group has introduced two additional teams in Georgia and Greensboro, N.C., to the league that will also debut at an unknown time.

“Pittsburgh is going to be one of the best cities in our organization,” said Joe Neuman, CEO of the ABA. “Just look at the great history that it has in sports. Aubrey clearly understands the business model that the ABA enforces. You must do your part off the court, in your community, and you must also do what it takes on the court. The people of Pittsburgh just want to see a good competitive team that offers good entertainment—for a reasonable price. I think that Aubrey and his team have what it takes to bring that to them.”

Dave Hareen was named vice president of player development for both teams. His duties, along with other parties, are to locate and recruit the players, coaches and supportive personnel to guide the team to success.

Hareen’s been a part of the Basketball Writers Association of America since 1985, as a reporter and columnist. Also, he served as an NBA statistician for the New York Knicks during the 1961-62 season.

“The idea of the ABA is to give players fun exposure to the game and on the professional level,” said Hareen. “We understand that there are guys that are not quite good enough. We’ll contact college coaches and identify college seniors who are looking for chances to play on the next level.”

One of Hareen’s greatest accomplishments—in his 50-plus years of involvement with the sport on both the collegiate and professional level. is the Tandex rating system.

It was created in 1958 while he was a sophomore at the University of Delaware. The success of this system has warranted a vast amount of following and has led to five editions of a book, Basketball Abstract. His work with Tandex has landed him consulting opportunities with 16 different NBA franchises and five NBA player agents.

“I’ve used the system for many years to predict and evaluate past NBA drafts,” Hareen said. “I used to doubt this but I can now say, confidently, that the Tandex system is better for rating players for the draft than scouts, themselves.”

Bruce and his associates are hoping that with the establishment of committed sponsors, strong community service initiatives and solid player and personnel development, his ABA teams will be a success.

“We are two steps away from adding Southwest Airlines as a sponsor,” said Bruce. “We are also trying to get many others on board and those talks just started very recently. We will not rely on our gate sales to sustain us. We wanted to have a legitimate backing through our sponsors and use the rest of the funds for miscellaneous costs. The league has a $100,000 salary cap for all of its teams and we plan on spending no more than $250,000-350,000 on each team, total. We have to meet those budgets.”

(Malik Vincent can be reached at malikvincent@gmail.com.)

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