Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Bren Events Center’ tag

1987-1989 Los Angeles Starlites

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Major League Volleyball (1987-1989)

Born: November 25, 1986 – MLV founding franchise.
Died: March 20, 1989 – Major League Volleyball folds in midseason.

Arenas:

  • 1987-1988: Golden West College
  • 1987-1988: Cal-State Long Beach
  • 1987-1988: Gersten Pavilion at Loyola Marymount
  • 1989: Bren Events Center  (5,000)

Team Colors:

Owners:

  • 1987-1988: Major League Volleyball
  • 1989: George Corey, et al.

 

The Los Angeles Starlites were a dominant but disorganized franchise in Major League Volleyball, a short-lived all-female pro volleyball league that played parts of three seasons from 1987 to 1989.

The league was organized in late 1986 by attorney and former sports agent R. Steven Arnold, who was previously involved in the doomed World Football League of the 1970’s.  The league started with six franchises, making sure to include the key media markets of Chicago, Los Angeles and New York in a bid to secure national sponsors and television.  And MLV did, in fact, succeed in securing a cable TV contract with ESPN.  But it was the three big cities where the league fared the worst, and nowhere in more embarrassing fashion than Los Angeles.

The Starlites were dominant on the court.  They won both of Major League Volleyball’s league championships (1987 & 1988) and compiled a 36-8 regular season record during the league’s first two seasons.  The level of play in Major League Volleyball was quite high and the Starlites featured three silver medalists from the 1984 U.S. Olympic squad, including Jeanne Beauprey-Reeves, Rita Crockett-Royster and Debbie Green-Vargas.

At first, MLV was a single-entity league, with all clubs owned by the league’s management.  The Starlites were notoriously poorly managed, failing to secure a permanent home court or communicate with their fans where they would be playing each week as they bounced between a succession of local college gyms.  While the Major League Volleyball franchise in Minneapolis averaged close to 2,000 fans per match, the Starlites played to crowds that sometimes numbered fewer than 100 fans, many of whom were friends or acquaintances of the players.

Prior to the league’s third season, the franchises were sold off to individual owners.  A group of four investors, led by George Corey, took over the Starlites and attempted to bring some rational thought to the operation, starting with a permanent lease at UC-Irvine’s Bren Events Center.  But by the time Major League Volleyball kicked off its third season in February 1989, the league was in terminal condition.  In late March, one-third of the way through the regular season schedule, the franchise owners compared notes and determined there was no point in continuing.

Major League Volleyball abruptly closed down in late March 1989 with only one third of the season complete.  The Starlites averaged 592 spectators per match at the Bren Center during their final abbreviated season.

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Written by AC

September 4th, 2013 at 3:19 am

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