Former Westover star Perry Nelson, left, puts up a shot during the Shockwave’s season opener. (Rico Wiley/Albany Shockwave)
ALBANY, Ga. — Christopher Pike, general manager of the American Basketball Association’s Albany Shockwave and a member of the Albany City Commission, said Thursday morning the team moved its Tuesday home game from the Albany Civic Center to the Albany High School gymnasium as a way to cut overhead costs.
City officials, however, said playing the game at the Civic Center was taken off the table because the team had incurred a debt in excess of $2,000 during its opening game, a 131-85 victory over the Savannah Grizzlies on Nov. 14.
“We had some issues with tickets, but we’re clearing up that matter with the city,” Pike said of the debt. “The bottom line is that it made more sense financially for us to move the game. Even after moving to Albany High, we sold basically the same number of tickets, but at about 10 percent the cost (of playing at the Civic Center).
“We’ve set up meetings with Albany High and with Albany State (University), and our plan is to play the rest of our home games at those venues. We’re going to re-evaluate, make the decisions that make the most sense for the team.”
Suzanne Davis, the city of Albany’s director of Parks and Recreation and director of the Civic Center and the Albany Municipal Auditorium, said the 14 remaining dates that had been set aside for Shockwave home games had been opened after the team failed to meet its opening-game financial obligations.
“Those dates were opened Tuesday,” Davis said. “And we’ve been contacted by people interested in booking them.”
Both Davis and City Manager James Taylor said Pike and the Shockwave had been treated the same as any other customer looking to utilize the Civic Center, his position on the City Commission notwithstanding.
“(Pike) was absolutely not given any opportunity that we wouldn’t give any other customer,” Taylor said. “He was treated the same. He had to confirm his dates (for games) and keep his financial obligations up to date in order to rent the facility. The team did not meet those obligations and made a decision to relocate their games.”
Davis also said the team was quoted “market rate” to rent the venue.
“Just as we would any other customer who had incurred debt, we require that any past debt owed be paid before we schedule any other events,” she said. “Any past debt would have to be paid, and we would require a deposit before we scheduled any future dates.”
Despite the problems so early in the first-year team’s existence, Pike said he still believes the Shockwave can succeed in Albany.
“I’m a perpetual optimist, but I believe this is going to work,” he said. “We’re going to have to crawl before we can walk, but we’ve gotten a lot of support in the community. It’s just not enough support to cover costs of playing our games in the Civic Center.
“Obviously, our recipe for success involves generating sponsorships and ticket sales. We’re going to do everything we can to keep pushing forward and get to the end of the season. If we can do that, I believe we’ll have a much better opportunity for success going into our second year.”
Taylor confirmed Thursday afternoon that Shockwave officials were working with the city to take care of the debt owed for use of the Civic Center.