As its courtship of the NBA continues, the city of Anaheim will welcome an NBA Development League team to town today.
The team will play a 25-game home schedule at the Anaheim Convention Center, starting in November. Under the five-year lease, the city can terminate the agreement upon the request of an NBA team moving into the Arrowhead Pond.
The NBA has broadened the reach of its minor league beyond its Southeast roots this year, expanding to Anaheim and Bakersfield and adding former Continental Basketball Assn. teams from Boise, Idaho; Bismarck, N.D.; Broomfield, Colo., and Sioux Falls, S.D.
The arena opened in 1967 and seats 7,500. The Pond opened in 1993 and has yet to lure the NBA team the building was designed to attract, although the Clippers averaged 14,830 fans on a part-time schedule there from 1994-99.
The Seattle SuperSonics, Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers all face uncertain futures, and Pond officials have talked with representatives from those teams.
Tim Ryan, president of the company that runs the Pond, said Anaheim's affiliation with the small markets of the developmental league would not stigmatize the city or hamper the pursuit of an NBA franchise.
"We hope they're tremendously successful. It could be a shot in the arm for basketball in Orange County," Ryan said. "But there have been a number of different sports teams in Anaheim, at the Pond and at other venues, and I don't think the NBA has ever looked at any of them as having an effect on the idea of the NBA suiting Orange County, whether it's roller hockey or indoor soccer or any of the other sports."