>Santa Barbara Breakers

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I’d like to congratulate the Santa Barbara Breakers of the IBL for the job that they did to kick off their inaugural season over the weekend. On Friday night, Santa Barbara’s only professional sports franchise knocked off the Seattle Mountaineers 135-105 in front of a near sellout crowd of 1,800 fans at Santa Barbara City College. From the video that I saw of the game, it truly looked like that many fans were in attendance and that number wasn’t inflated for effect (no word on how many of those tickets were comped though). By all accounts, it was a pretty successful debut for a city that hasn’t had professional basketball since the Santa Barbara Islanders of the CBA folded in 1990.

The Breakers have done a pretty good job of getting the word out around town about the team. They held a name-the-team contest drawing a thousand entries including the victorious and debatable Breakers moniker, they held a draft party in which they claimed territorial rights over two local collegiate players, they’ve tried to get the area’s celebrities involved as much as possible (Rob Lowe threw the inaugural tipoff and the Breakers name was chosen by a celebrity panel) and they have signed quite a few players with local ties or good name recognition like UCLA star Toby Bailey, former Laker Samaki Walker and Michael Jordan’s rag doll, Bryon Russell.

But I have to take the Breakers to task on a couple of things. First of all, they decided on a team name, couldn’t they give us a logo that represents that name? I’m not a big fan of the Breakers nickname, it’s too generic and too obvious to be effective, but you could still do something creative with it to give the team a visual presence in the city. The name of the city over a basketball and a halo means absolutely nothing.

Secondly, the biggest draw for me to minor league sports and especially to an extremely low level, unproven, kind of sketchy commodity like the Breakers is value. I expect to be able to sit nice and close, maybe even courtside, and enjoy the game without blowing a big wad of cash. It’s one of the reasons that I go to a lot of Ventura College basketball games, it’s the best entertainment value in the entire county.

The Breakers offer tickets at a low $6.00 price point, and in a small community college gymnasium the seats probably aren’t bad. However, they also have tickets priced at $10, $14, $18, $25 and for courtside seats $100, $150 and $200. You’ve got to be kidding me. $200 tickets to watch Shantay Legans and Fred Vinson? What a joke. And who wants to bet that not many of the $6 tickets are available on gameday?

Just as a comparison, on Ticketmaster right now you can purchase Los Angeles Lakers tickets for the first round of the NBA playoffs. Tickets start at $12 and go up to $2500. However, the second most expensive ticket after the $2500 seats is $250. Let’s see, courtside for Santiago Aguirre or drive two hours for Kobe and the playoffs? You make the call.

I wish the Breakers all the luck in the world and I plan on taking in a game either next weekend or the weekend after. But unless I am underestimating the sheer wealth in Santa Barbara (it may seem like everybody is rich, but I know that isn’t the case) this pricing structure is going to keep average fans away in the long run and the Breakers will disappear into obscurity just like Islanders 17 years ago.

Team: Santa Barbara Breakers
League: International Basketball League
Location: Santa Barbara, California
Arena: City College Sports Pavilion

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