But Hoops General Manager Steve Project said that business could be better.
So Project challenged area companies last week to step up and help the franchise out now during the club’s current stretch of home games.
“We’re operating with a lot of urgency here,” he added.
Project said ticket sales and promotions could both use a boost. The Hoops began selling tickets in September, just prior to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and sales didn’t go well immediately after those horrifying events.
“Nothing went well after Sept. 11,” said Project.
Still, the Continental Basketball Association franchise has topped its initial corporate sales goal of $350,000 by reaching the $460,000 mark at midseason. Project said the Hoops have revised that sales goal to $500,000 and are hoping to reach it with new corporate support before the CBA playoffs begin.
“We’ve set another goal of surpassing $500,000. So we are going to challenge the business community to take part in this team, to grow this team from the financial side so that we’re stable and here for the long haul,” he said.
Project said the Hoops have had some solid sponsors over the years. Budweiser, West Side Beer Distributing, Meijer Inc. and Pepsi have backed the franchise since its inception in 1989. TDS Metrocom, Nextel and Paunchy Pete’s have been strong sponsors this season.
“TDS Metrocom signed a five-year deal with us, so they see a long-term vision with us,” said Project. “Our sponsors are in decent shape, but we have to keep pushing the envelope to create financial stability so we have a long-term future here.”
Project also said the franchise was looking to sell more five- and 10-game ticket plans. The Hoops are fifth in CBA attendance with a per-game average of 1,668 and trail smaller markets like Sioux Falls and Gary in the turnstile race.
“It’s time for Grand Rapids to be the real jewel of this league,” said Project. “We’ve got to get 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 fans in the seats.”
The marketing partnership the Hoops entered into with the Detroit Pistons kicks in for real this week. That arrangement, made just before Christmas, calls for Detroit to promote the Hoops in their media and to bring coaches, ex-players and dance teams to the DeltaPlex Entertainment and Expo Center, the Hoops’ home in Walker.
“There’s no reason why we can’t be the best franchise,” said Project, “and best city in this league.”