>Santa Barbara Breakers vs. Chico Force

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Saturday night I traveled up to beautiful Santa Barbara, California to check out the area’s only professional basketball team, the Santa Barbara Breakers of the IBL. Welcome to the Sports Pavilion on the campus of Santa Barbara City College…

An announced crowd of 725 (probably more like 400-500 actually in the stands) rooted the Breakers on to a 128-115 victory over the Chico Force. Former UCLA star Toby Bailey led the way for the Breakers with 35 points while Allen Purnell added 23. Tyree Jones and Larry Smith both scored 22 for the Force in the loss.

Those are the facts, now onto my impressions of my first minor league basketball game. First of all, the Sports Pavilion at SBCC is a dump. One of the dingiest, dirtiest buildings that I have ever been in. The entrance is a shambles, the ticket office is an unfinished room, the area where you go back to the bathrooms is disgusting, the seats are uncomfortable and rickety and the lighting in the gym messed up my eyes and gave me a headache. I probably won’t go to another Breakers game because of the Sports Pavilion alone.

Another reason I won’t be back to a Breakers game is because of false advertisement. On every single one of the team’s publications (like the schedule they handed me with my ticket purchase seen above) and on all of the ticketing websites the Breakers list their ticket prices as $6, $10, $14, $18, and $25 for regular seating. When I got to the game, the ticket prices listed were $8.50, $12.50, $16.50, $20.50 and $27.50. They fail to mention that there is an extra $2.50 charge on all tickets. I know some places charge extra for day-of-game tickets but this isn’t made clear anywhere and I feel like it’s a bit of a shady bait-and-switch tactic on the part of the Breakers.

Also, like I predicted when I took them to task for their ticket prices in an earlier post, they were sold out of the cheap seats and I had to purchase a $12.50 ticket. Now take a look at the first picture again, do you see anyone sitting in the top corners of the bleachers? I don’t. There never was anybody sitting in those seats even before the game. Even in an empty building, usually there are a few honest people that sit in their assigned seats at least until the end of the first half, but not tonight. I can’t prove anything, but I don’t think that the cheap tickets actually exist. Is this another bait-and-switch ploy by the Breakers?

I feel a little bit ripped off by the game play as well. The Breakers made a big deal about signing former Utah Jazz star Bryon Russell, but he has yet to play in a game. There also was no Samaki Walker or Fred Vinson or Mike Efevberha or Shantay Leggins. Heck, there wasn’t even local kid Santiago Aguirre to root for. Toby Bailey (seen above pouting after scoring 35 points, sorry for the poor picture) and Billy Knight aren’t bad, but what happened to the rest of this “star studded” roster?

And while the game was fast paced and high scoring it wasn’t very interesting or exciting. It’s basically just a bunch of guys playing pickup basketball trying to score as many points as possible for themselves. This is a big problem throughout minor league basketball and is one of the reasons that fans don’t ever get invested in these smaller teams. Players are just looking to catch the attention of somebody higher up in the food chain so team play that leads to more interesting basketball goes straight out the window.

The Breakers do try to put on a show, albeit a bush league one. They have a cheers squad that does a little bit of dancing and throws t-shirts into the crowd. They have some random guy that stomps his feet and yells at the crowd during timeouts, but only in the first half for some reason. They play repetitive pump-you-up music throughout the entire game. And the players all sign autographs on the court following the final buzzer. Nothing is very imaginative or creative, they do just enough to get by.

There were only a couple positives that I could single out. There were a lot of kids at the game that were really, really excited to be there. They danced around on the floor, slapped five with the guys, even got into the huddle at one point during a timeout and yelled “BREAKERS” louder than the players did.

They also seem to be doing a fair amount of sales of their replica jersey. I saw quite a few people shell out $50 for the blue jersey with a big sweeping Santa Barbara across the chest. It’s probably because it was the only piece of merchandise that wasn’t completely boring. And at least the Breakers have team jerseys. Chico’s jerseys were blank other than the number.

So while I wish that I could say that my Santa Barbara Breakers experience was better, I just cannot report anything more than being completely underwhelmed and a little bit angry at the team. Minor league sports has to provide to it’s customers the feeling that you are getting more than what you paid for. But between the bait-and-switch tactics and the boring game play, after the game I felt like I spent far too much money on an inferior product. I sincerely doubt that I will be back.

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