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Ft. Myers-Naples Group Purchases Team


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Ft. Myers-Naples Group Purchases Team



GREENVILLE, S.C., May 24 ? A local ownership group composed of successful business people mostly from the Ft. Myers-Naples, Fla. area has purchased a National Basketball Development League team, according to an announcement by NBDL President Phil Evans. The team will begin play with the start of the 2004-05 season at TECO Arena in Estero.


The team will be known for now as NBDL Florida. An announcement regarding the team?s new name and colors is expected in the near future.


?We believe this area is ready for not only professional basketball played by players just a phone call away from the NBA, but the affordable, family fun that goes along with an NBDL game,? Evans said. ?We look forward to becoming a vital part of this community.?


?To grow the NBDL successfully, we have to grow it through association with strong local ownership,? Evans said. ?Local business people know best how to get things done in the communities where they live and work. The local ownership team we?ve put in place here will ensure our NBDL team is quickly embraced in Southwest Florida.?


The purchase of the team marks the initial venture into local ownership for the NBA?s minor league. The six current NBDL teams are owned and operated by the NBA. The group of 11 investors includes Brett Vickers, Lloyd Vickers, Terry Thimlar, Hugh Thimlar, Tim Gilbert, John Lyden, Walter Blankley, Gary Fluharty, Dr. Admin Eisenfeld, Craig Sager and Elaine Ahern.


?We are very excited about bringing NBDL basketball to Southwest Florida. The combination of the NBA/NBDL, our ownership group, and TECO Arena make this a great time to be a basketball fan in this community,? Team President Brett Vickers said. ?The NBDL is the premier minor league for basketball, and we would like to thank the executives of the NBA for choosing us to be the first group to be owner-operators in the NBDL. We are confident this franchise will become the crown jewel of the NBDL.?


The NBDL also currently includes the Fayetteville Patriots (N.C.), Charleston Lowgators (S.C.), Huntsville Flight (Ala.), Roanoke Dazzle (Va.), Columbus Riverdragons (Ga.) and Asheville Altitude (N.C.).


The league offers players, as well as off-court personnel, the opportunity to develop their talent in a highly competitive atmosphere under the NBA?s umbrella. Twenty-eight (28) players have been called up the NBA on 39 separate occasions. Five former NBDL coaches, two athletic trainers, six referees and 23 front office executives have also been called up to NBA positions since the start of the league?s inaugural season in November 2001.

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