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  Professional Basketball Comes to Richmond
September 8, 2011

Professional basketball comes to Richmond

By Chris Treadway
Contra Costa Times

Posted: 09/07/2011 05:57:37 PM PDT
Updated: 09/08/2011 11:10:55 AM PDT

There are a lot of dedicated and talented basketball players who play for the love of the sport and excel on high school and college teams or on the playground but don't get to perform to a general audience.
There also are a lot of families priced out of seeing professional sports because of the high cost of admission.
Stepping up to meet the needs of the above players and fans is the American Basketball Association, which revives the name of the professional league that operated from 1968 to 1976 and popularized the red-white-and-blue basketball, the three-point shot now standard in the pros and college and a freewheeling style of play.
The new ABA now has 90 teams nationwide playing in regional leagues; the newest is the Richmond Rockets, which was awarded a franchise in the ABA's Northern California Division in July.
The Rockets, the first professional sports team in Richmond, will begin a 30-game schedule in November and play their 15 home games at the newly renovated Richmond Memorial Auditorium.
"Everyone I've been talking to in and around the city is really excited about us bringing basketball to Richmond," said Keith Hazell, the team's head of basketball operations. "Our goal is to bring the city a good team."
The Rockets have already partnered with the Richmond Police Activities League, which hosted the team's first tryouts at its gymnasium in July. A second round of tryouts is planned this month under the supervision of coach Lamar Baker, a former high school and junior college All-American from San Francisco.
The ABA operates with a goal of providing entertainment that doesn't strain the household budget; prices for general admission tickets start at $10. "Our whole model is for a family to be able to have an affordable night out," Hazell said. "We understand it's expensive to see the Warriors. What we really want to do is put a really exciting product on the floor."
The home opener is set for Nov. 11. Learn more at www.RichmondRockets.net and ABAlive.com.
WEST COUNTY NOTES: A double-bill show starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday will demonstrate the wide range of musical styles showcased by the free Point Richmond Music summer concert series.
The program at Park Place and Washington Avenue in historic downtown Point Richmond opens with acoustic indie-gypsy chamber folk act Taarka, exploring ancient forms of music presented "for modern times."
At 6:45 p.m., local band Lava takes the stage for a lively set of Latin rock/funk/salsa and other styles.
The evening also features art exhibitions by the Arts of Point Richmond and the Point Richmond Art Collective, a no-host bar with proceeds benefit the Malvern Wilson Alumni Association), raffle, children's activities and more. Details: www.pointrichmondmusic.com.
Contact Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784 or ctreadway@bayareanewsgroup.com.