Monday, February 19, 2018
Business

Tampa's latest semi-pro basketball effort fails

Like an afternoon thunderstorm in Florida, the Tampa Bay Rain came and went.

The semi-professional basketball team competed in the American Basketball Association. They tipped off their inaugural season on Oct. 26, jumped out to a 4-1 start, in addition to going 3-0 in the preseason, and unexpectedly folded a few weeks later.

"Those of us that were part of the organization were as surprised as most everyone else was when we ceased operations," Rain director of marketing Dennis Casazza said.

"Mr. Stephen Davis (owner) informed us that our attendance for the first series of home games was not sufficient to sustain the team. He was planning on shutting down the season after the sixth game, and subsequently canceled the seventh game, which was to be played on Oct. 29th at home."

Davis could not be reached for comment.

The Rain completed five of 29 scheduled regular season games.

The team's shutdown was mentioned on the Tampa Bay Rain's Facebook page, with posts from people wondering how they can obtain season ticket refunds.

The page has since been deleted.

Casazza said he wasn't fully aware of the process for getting refunds. "It's my understanding that he (Davis) is committed to refunding season ticket holders on a prorated basis," he said.

The Rain originally planned to play home games at Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds but moved its games to the MAC Center in Odessa because of low preseason attendance.

"We tried to find a series of investors to keep the season going," Casazza said, "but unfortunately, we couldn't gain any interest."

Tree Rollins, a former NBA player, was the Rain's head coach. Last fall, he expressed excitement about the possibilities this season.

"One of our main goals this season is to create some kind of foundation in Tampa Bay. Create a following," he said then.

Rollins could not be reached for comment.

Casazza said the team would like to talk with anyone interested in pursuing ownership of a semi-pro basketball franchise in Tampa.

He added, "Unfortunately, we didn't reach enough to sustain us and as we found out with great surprise, we didn't have the financial backing we needed to get us over the hurdle. We'd like to correct all that, with the right ownership."

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