Sports enthusiasts and local businesspeople are hoping the third time's a charm for a beloved Albany basketball franchise.
The Albany Patroons are hoping to rekindle the 1980s magic the then-CBA team brought to the Armory. Officials with the North American Premier Basketball League say the 2018 season will begin in January, and the Patroons—who returned for four years in 2005 — are back again.
"One thing that a lot of people don't know about me is that I am a huge sports fan," said Mayor Kathy Sheehan, who is excited for the city. "I love to watch basketball, I love to watch football. I got to sit on the bench with the UAlbany women's team and I almost got a technical foul called against me. I'm a very passionate sports fan, and so when we have the opportunity to have a hometown team it is really really exciting because I know that when we rally around our sports teams we come together as a community. And this is a sports franchise that is legendary in our city, that people still talk about with great great memories, and that they would love to see come back."
Memories of the green-and-gold aside, head coach and managing partner Derrick Rowland, who spent seven years on the first incarnation of the club, defined the new team's attitude. "No one said anything about the players. Who we gonna get, who's gonna rebound for me, who's gonna play defense, because that's not what we're here for. We're gonna win some games, we're gonna lose some games. But our biggest reason for being here is to make Albany a better place to live."
North American Premier Basketball League president Dave Magley: "The season will start January 1. Training camps will begin December 15th. The season will last January through April, with playoffs being in May. We expect the playoffs to be done sometime in mid-May. First season we're gonna have anywhere from eight to 12 teams with 96 to 144 jobs available. For you young men that might wanna get in shape, I'm just talkin' to ya right there."
Magley is looking to staff the team as much as possible with local talent. "We're lookin' at a price point of anywhere from $8 to $25, $30. Very affordable, discount for families. 1,500 tends to be the number we need to consistently get into this venue. The business mode, it's important to us that we build a business that can be sustained."
The big question: can that 1980s enthusiasm and team spirit be rekindled? Albany County Executive Dan McCoy thinks so.
"Let's face it. We're still coming out of this recession a little bit. People don't have a lot of money, and it's a good way to entertain your kids, but it's also a great time to see basketball on a level like that where you're so close to the court. You don't have to spend $150 to have that ringside seat. You can spend 8 bucks and have a great view and feel like you're still part of it. But the amazing thing to me is you can go back to '84 to the championship game with Phil Jackson and '88 — people still talk about it! It's 2017 and people are still talkin' about 'Oh my god, the Patroons,' 'Oh, he was a season ticket holder,' and this one, that one, it's just really neat the family atmosphere and the friendships that you make, and that's what it's about."
From 1982 to 1990 and 2005 to 2009, the Albany Patroons of the Continental Basketball Association played inside the Armory. Legendary NBA coaches Phil Jackson, Bill Musselman and George Karl coached the Pats during the 1980s.