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Will the CBA's Puerto Rico Coquis move to Birmingham?


March 9, 1985
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Reports out of San Juan claim that the owner of the Continental Basketball Association's Puerto Rico Coquis will move his team to Birmingham before the 1985-86 season. "There is a very good possibility that Birmingham will be the home of a CBA team next season," said Robert Jones, a team representative.

"I am currently negotiating with representatives of the State Fair Authority for a lease of the State Fair Arena, and everything is contingent on those negotiations. If we can obtain a workable lease agreement, I am 99% certain that Birmingham will have professional basketball next season. The people that I am representing are very serious about Birmingham, even though they have surveyed other cities in Alabama and Georgia. Birmingham is at the top of the list because the city is felt to be a good sports city. We would like a lease of the Fair Park Arena because it would best suit our needs. The Birmingham-Jefferson County Civic Center would be too large for our needs and Boutwell Auditorium isn't acceptable to us," Jones said.

The 14 team Continental Basketball Association was originally founded on April 23, 1946 as the Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League. At some point, the EPBL renamed itself the Eastern Basketball Association. On June 1, 1978, the EBA became the Continental Basketball Association to better reflect the geographical expansion of the league. Since 1980, the CBA has been the official developmental league of the National Basketball Association. In addition to financial assistance, the CBA grooms players, coaches, and officials.

The Coquis are owned by San Juan insurance executive Walter Fournier and are playing in their second season as a CBA expansion team. Fournier wants to relocate the franchise due to poor attendance and Birmingham has been the only city named as a likely candidate. The Coquis have only averaged around 300 people per game this season despite finishing in first place for the regular season last year.


April 1, 1985
The Alabama State Fair Authority Board has reached a tentative agreement with representatives of the Coquis for rental of the State Fair Arena.

If a board committee and an attorney for the franchise decide to sign a contract, the team would play at least 24 home games in the arena this winter. The terms are for three years with the franchise posting a $25,000 certificate of deposit to offset any loss by the Authority if the team fails to stay for the three years. The team would pay $1,500 per game for the use of the arena and would receive 41% of concession income.

May 21, 1985
Local attorney Bob Jones announces that the Puerto Rico Coquis will not be moving to Birmingham.

Jones, who had been handling the negotiations for Coquis owner Walter Fournier, said the delays in securing a lease for the State Fair Arena forced a decision not to move here. Even though a tentative agreement was reached, the State Fair Authority would not commit to the agreement before the league deadline for moving the team had passed.

"I think the CBA is still interested in Birmingham. But we just ran out of time as far as the 1985-86 season is concerned," Jones said.

Epilogue
The Continental Basketball Association eventually came to Birmingham in 1991.

In search of a larger fan base, the owner of the CBA's Pensacola Tornados moved his team to Birmingham.

Unfortunately, the Birmingham Bandits didn't make many new fans in town and the team moved at the end of the season to Rochester, Minnesota to become the Rochester Renegade.
 
 
 
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Last update: August 15, 2018