Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1975 San Diego Sails

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San Diego SailsAmerican Basketball Association (1975)

Born: June 1975 – Re-branded from San Diego Conquistadors
Folded: November 11, 1975

Arena: San Diego Sports Arena

Team Colors:

Owner: Frank Goldberg & Bud Fischer

ABA Championships: None

 

San Diego furniture dealers Frank Goldberg and Bud Fischer took over the American Basketball Association’s long-troubled San Diego Conquistadors franchise in June 1975. ABA executives undoubtedly hoped the pair could work the same magic on the debt-ridden Q’s that they had with the league’s Denver Nuggets franchise. Those hopes were misplaced.

Goldberg and Fischer bought the ABA’s 5-year old Denver Rockets franchise in 1972. In their first full season of ownership, the Rockets finished tied for last place with the always woeful Conquistadors. The new owners then presided over a remarkable transformation. They re-branded the team as the Denver Nuggets in 1974. On the court, the Nuggets enjoyed a stunning reversal of fortune. Attendance jumped 50% while the Nuggets went 40-2 at home in 1974-75. Then, just as the Nuggets prepared to move into state-of-the-art McNichols Arena in 1975, Goldberg and Fischer sold the team to local investors and went home to take ownership of the horrid Conquistadors.

As they did in Denver, Goldberg and Fischer euthanized the brand identity of a last place club. The Conquistadors name, in dubious taste to begin with, was dumped during the summer of 1975. In its place came the “San Diego Sails” along with a jaunty new green, blue and white color palette. The team also had a stable lease at the 14,000-seat San Diego Sports Arena. This was in contrast to the Q’s who spent their first two seasons wandering around in small gyms thanks to a dispute with Sports Arena impresario Peter Graham.

But San Diego was not Denver. Goldberg and Fischer’s financial resources were depleted by big spending on the Nuggets’ 1974-75 roster upgrades and by an ill-conceived investment in a World Team Tennis franchise, the Denver Racquets. There would be no worst-to-first revival of the Q’s/Sails. The ABA itself was on its last legs heading into the 1975-76 campaign. The league’s Memphis franchise – another chronic headache – moved to Baltimore, only to embarrass the ABA by folding during training camp four days before the regular season opener.

The Sails’ first game at the Arena was a showcase: an inter-league exhibition against the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and their superstar center Bill Walton on October 15, 1975. But the contest failed to whet the appetites of local fans. Only 3,060 showed up for the Sails’ regular season debut on October 24, 1975 against Goldberg & Fischer’s former team, the Denver Nuggets.

The league schedule saw the Sails play much of the first month of the season on the road. By November 11th, the Sails’ record stood at 3-8. The team had played just three games at home with a combined attendance of only 7,126 fans. By now, the main focus of ABA clubs was pursuing a merger with the NBA. The Sails owners lost confidence in being included in an eventual merger deal. They folded the team on November 11, 1975 after playing just 11 games.

After the Sails’ demise, the club’s roster was put out to auction among the ABA’s eight remaining clubs. Guard Bo Lamar, and big men Mark Olberding and Dave Robisch were the only Sails players to receive bids. The exception was the team’s best player, All-Star center Caldwell Jones. ABA Commissioner Dave DeBusschere held Jones out of the auction as a “special case”. His contract was sold to the Kentucky Colonels in a separate transaction shortly thereafter.

The ABA’s troubled 1975-76 season ground on. The Utah Stars folded three weeks after the Sails on December 2, 1975 – the third ABA franchise to fold since the opening of training camp in October. The league folded in the spring of 1976, after four of the surviving seven teams were admitted via merger into the NBA.

 

San Diego Sails Shop

Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association by Terry Pluto

 

San Diego Sails Memorabilia

 

In Memoriam

Head coach Bill Musselman passed away on May 5, 2000 at the age of 59. New York Times obituary.

Guard Bob Warren died on August 25, 2014 at age 68. The Tennessean obituary.

All-Star Center Caldwell Jones died of a heart attack on September 21, 2014. He was 64 years old. New York Times obituary.

 

Links

American Basketball Association Media Guides

American Basketball Association Programs

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1999-2000 San Diego Stingrays

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1999 San Diego Stingrays ProgramInternational Basketball League (1999-2000)

Born: 1999 – IBL founding franchise
Folded: 2000

Arena: San Diego Sports Arena

Team Colors:

Owner:

IBL Championships: None

 

The San Diego Stingrays were a One-Year Wonder in the short-lived International Basketball League. The Stingrays were the sixth pro basketball team to fail at the San Diego Sports Arena since the building opened in 1966. The ‘Rays followed the Rockets, Conquistadors, Sails, Clippers and Wildcards into the city’s roundball graveyard.

Smokey Gaines, an ex-Harlem Globetrotter and former head coach at San Diego State, signed on to coach the team. Things got off to an embarrassing start when the Stingrays couldn’t reach contract terms with their top player in training camp, Phoenix Thomas. The 6′ 8″ power forward averaged 25 points and 13 boards in exhibition play and then walked away from the team before the opener.

The team gained some attention by signing hip hop star Master P (Percy Miller) in November 1999. Miller, the rapper and impresario behind Snoop Dogg’s label at the time, No Limit Records, made cameo appearances in several NBA training camps and minor league clubs during the late ’90’s. Miller’s time with the ‘Rays was brief and he was gone by midseason.

The Stingrays drew an announced crowd of 9,762 to their home debut at the Arena on November 27, 1999. The ‘Rays defeated the Las Vegas Silver Bandits 102-100 in double overtime. The team never drew another crowd of that size and they didn’t win many more game either. Gaines was fired at midseason and replaced behind the bench with former NBA All-Star Jeff Malone. The Stingrays finished last in the IBL’s West Division with a 19-45 record for the 1999-00 season.

The IBL contracted from eight to six franchises for the league’s second season in 2000-01. The Stingrays were one of the two eliminated clubs.  The International Basketball League itself shut down in July 2001 after the conclusion of its second season.

 

Links

International Basketball League Media Guides

International Basketball League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

November 19th, 2017 at 11:28 pm

1990-1995 San Diego Gulls

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1990-91 San Diego Gulls ProgramInternational Hockey League (1990-1995)

Born: 1990
Moved: 1995 (Los Angeles Ice Dogs)

Arena: San Diego Sports Arena (13,100)

Team Colors:

Owners:

Turner Cup Championships: None

 

Text coming soon…

 

San Diego Gulls Memorabilia

 

Links

International Hockey League Media Guides

International Hockey League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

January 23rd, 2017 at 1:42 am

1966-1974 San Diego Gulls

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1969-70 San Diego Gulls WHL Media GuideWestern Hockey League (1966-1974)

Born: 1966 – WHL expansion franchise
Folded: June 1974

Arena: San Diego Sports Arena

Team Colors:

Owner: Bob Breitbard

Lester Patrick Cup Championships: None

 

The San Diego Gulls were a popular entry in the minor Western Hockey League in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  The club was the brainchild of veteran San Diego sports booster Bob Breitbard, who oversaw construction of the San Diego Sports Arena in 1966 and owned both of its major tenants: the Gulls and the NBA’s San Diego Rockets.

Tax pressures on the Arena overtook Breitbard in 1971, forcing him to sell off the Rockets basketball team to Houston interests and relinquish control of the Arena to Canadian businessman Peter Graham.  But Breitbard held onto the Gulls for several more seasons and continued to nurture dreams of attracting a National Hockey League expansion franchise to San Diego. Meanwhile, the Gulls continued to pull strong crowds throughout the early Seventies, both for WHL play and for a pair of high profile international exhibitions against the Soviet National Team.

The death knell for the San Diego Gulls WHL franchise rang in the spring of 1974. The National Hockey League went to war with the upstart World Hockey Association over players and expansion markets. The NHL awarded expansion franchises to long-time WHL cities Denver and Seattle. Arena owner Peter Graham served an eviction notice on the Gulls to make way for the relocating Jersey Knights of the WHA. Without a building or a viable league to play in, the Gulls called it quits in June 1974.

The “Gulls” nickname has subsequently been revived by three different San Diego minor league hockey franchises. Most recently, the American Hockey League’s San Diego Gulls opened for business in the fall of 2015.

 

San Diego Gulls Programs

 

==In Memoriam==

Gulls founder Bob Breitbard passed away on May 17, 2010 at the age of 91. San Diego Union-Tribune obit.

 

==Links==

SanDiegoGulls.org – excellent fan history site

Western Hockey League Media Guides

Western Hockey League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

June 20th, 2016 at 4:47 pm

1974-1977 San Diego Mariners

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San Diego Mariners Media GuideWorld Hockey Association (1974-1977)

Born: 1974 – The Jersey Knights relocate to San Diego, CA
Folded:
Postseason 1977

Arena: San Diego Sports Arena

Team Colors:

Owners:

AVCO World Trophy Champions: None

 

Text coming soon…

 

San Diego Mariners Shop

The Rebel League: The Short & Unruly Life of the World Hockey Association by Ed Willes

 

San Diego Mariners Memorabilia

 

Links

World Hockey Association Media Guides

World Hockey Association Programs

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Written by AC

July 18th, 2015 at 7:40 pm

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