Cary Invasion owner and Tobacco Road Basketball League co-chairman Mark Janas said he spent more time helping manage the league in its first year of existence than he did marketing his local team.
He calls it “an investment that was worth making,” but hopes he doesn’t have to do it as much next season.
Janas was bullish on the future of the league he helped form in hopes of correcting some of the problems his team experienced in the Continental Basketball League the prior year. The CBL had higher travel costs, with teams in Alabama, Georgia and Florida, and one of those teams folded midway through the season.
The TRBL has teams only in North and South Carolina, and all played a complete schedule.
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“We were in a much more stable situation than the Invasion were (in) last year. And for that matter, in my six or seven years of minor league basketball, we were far more the most stable league and situation we’ve ever been in. So that was very encouraging,” Janas said.
“We were able to do some things that, unfortunately, haven’t been done in minor league basketball in a while – that is, we played every single game as scheduled. Full, complete-game statistics were up. We worked with some of the third parties to get players’ stats posted for agents. We hit all of our primary objectives.”
Janas also was pleased with the improved quality of the league.
“This league, from top to bottom, was much deeper than the league we were in last year. We brought in two travel teams this past season that actually took games away from playoff teams,” Janas said. “We really weren’t challenged last year, but this year we could’ve lost a couple more games. That’s a good thing, though.”
The TRBL will try to expand from the seven teams it had this year. Its two travel teams – Queen City Express and Big Texas – could become full-fledged members next season, and new franchises in the Carolinas and possibly Virginia could be welcomed before the 2013 season, according to Janas.
But most of Janas’ plans for next year are about increasing the awareness of the Invasion in its local market.
“We’re still limited to a degree by what kind of promotions we can do at the Herb Young,” said Janas. “You can’t go and do major comp programs to get people into the venue to get exposed to the product. You really have to do some small 50-, 100-seat promotions with schools and churches, etc. And it takes a little more time to build a fan base that way.”
Cary crowds in the 450-seat Herb Young Center were up from last year, but the Invasion plan to do more advertising and make consistent appearances in the community to continue to generate interest.